independent

Thursday 15 November 2018

Shared tears fall like rain

COUNTY UNITED IN SADNESS

St. Peter's Church in West Street was packed for the memorial service for Jill Meagher on Friday night.
St. Peter's Church in West Street was packed for the memorial service for Jill Meagher on Friday night.

HUBERT MURPHY

SOMETIMES when a service is so thought provoking you stuggle to find a beginning, never mind an ending.

Was it the sight of Monsignor Jim Carroll wrapping a reassuring arm around Michael McKeon as the mayor led the townspeople to the steps of St Peter's, was it the six white doves rising majestically into the soft Boyneside air, was it the comments of cousin Emma Buke that Jill ' collected tears like rain' or was it Jill's poetry, quoted extensively from beginning to end?

In truth, the answer contains every aspect of the service, masterful, poignant, inspiring.

Friday, on Drogheda's main street, a town mourned as one.

We have seen hard days before, tragic ceremonies, questions and questions, why him, why her, why Jill?

But one feels that from this day forth, Jill Meagher will have a special place in many hearts, and rightly so.

Melbourne to Drogheda is a long way, but as Monsignor James Carroll remarked, last Friday night it felt as if we were neighbours, united through the soul of friendship.

' This service is a wonderful tribute to Jill because at times like this we need each other and the true blessing is in the gathering and for that we are truly grateful.'

He spoke of the 'power of forgiveness' and the 'fleeting light of this world shining no more' and also of hope, that strength would see the family through these days.

Fr. Oliver Devine, who married the couple just four years ago in a little church near Kilternan, remarked 'all of these memories of Jill's short life will remain with us forever and will give us comfort in our dark days. Jill tragically has gone from us and so we gather here this evening to remember, to mourn for, and to pray for her.'

He revealed her father, George, grew up on these Drogheda streets, went to school here and learned about business here from his parents and others.

'He met with a lovely telephonist from Boyle in Roscommon who was working in Dundalk. He and Edith Scott started going out together. When George and Edith got married they had two healthy children: Jillian and Michael. Jill was baptised here in Saint Peter's Church, Drogheda, in 1982. Jill went to primary school for a couple of years in Termonfeckin before moving to Perth in Australia when she was about six years of age.

'When Jill was 16 years of age her family returned to Drogheda. That was when Jillian started transition year in Saint Oliver's Community College. Here Jill forged life-long friendships with many and embarked on the first part of her media career. Jill was in a school play and the video of this is still in existence and so too are the memories surrounding it. Some friends from her old school still remained in close contact with Jill,' he added.

After her excellent Leaving Certificate Jill started in University College Dublin, making lifelong friends there too.

As part of her working life, she spent time in Brown Thomas in 2003, meeting Kylie Minogue. She was delighted to meet someone actually smaller than her!

Life would bring her to Australia again, a new life, working with ABC. Sadly that life was cut so, so short. Others also spoke of Jill's life and loves, aunt Catherine McKeon Halpin and Emma Burke summing up the courage to conclude the proceedings with words of comfort.

'We lost a light when Jill died. She was the special one,' Catherine added.

As the family filed out of the church, uncle Michael walked onto the altar and picked up a picture of Jill and carried it out. This night, of all nights, Jill Meagher would be amongst friends again.

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