It was with great sadness that the Cleary and Furlong families, along with extended family, friends and community, gathered in St Peter's Church, Ballymitty recently for the funeral mass of Niamh Cleary (nee Furlong), only fourteen months after her wedding in the same church.
Niamh was only 30 when she passed away following a battle with a serious illness.
The beloved wife of Emmet and loving mother of Josh, daughter of Tony and Angela, sister of Cathal and Roisin, Niamh is sadly missed by her loving family, mother-in-law Ann, father-in-law Pat, aunts Kathleen, Bernie, Marian & Jacinta (Jessie), uncles John, Pat, Brendan, Jim and Declan; brother-in-law Keith, sisters-in-law Claire and Lisa, relatives and friends.
Everyone was shocked and saddened at the loss of a young wife and mother, as Niamh had just turned 30 on September 12. This was borne out by the huge crowds that attended the house in Ballymitty and at the funeral Mass.
Those who had the privilege of knowing Niamh in her short lifetime knew her as a devoted wife, mother and loving family member and friend. With quiet determination, dignified strength and relentless hope and optimism, Niamh faced the illness that took her so young, without complaint.
Daughter of Tony and Angela, Niamh was born on September 12 1986 and grew up in Ballycogley with her siblings Cathal and Roisin.
A former pupil of Mayglass National School and Bridgetown Vocational College, Niamh successfully completed her childcare studies and worked for a period of time in Little Scholars Montessori.
As well as being in the Girl Guides, Niamh followed all sports, was a keen Wexford GAA supporter, and played ladies' football with St. Fintan's club and athletics with Kilmore. She later went on to develop a passion for motor rallying with her husband Emmet and son Josh.
In her short life, Niamh packed so much in, including going on a Mediterranean cruise with Emmet when they were 21. She had plans for further travel and had her passport renewed recently for their next family trip.
Niamh met Emmet when they were both still in school. After 12 years together, they were married on July 4 last year. Together with their son Josh (4), they had plans for a long and happy life together.
When Niamh moved to Ballymitty, she embraced her new community and worked in the Cleary family business, where she was much appreciated for her entrepreneurial skills.
At her funeral mass, tribute was paid to Niamh's young husband Emmet. While a lot of people supported Niamh during her illness, her biggest supporter was Emmet. Only married 14 months, he was her full-time carer and was by her side throughout.
He left no stone unturned in his quest to seek out every treatment option possible for Niamh. He searched and researched and was prepared to do whatever it took to find answers. As was acknowledged, Emmet never ran out of options - only out of time.
Emmet fulfilled a promise to Niamh by doing a rally for her birthday only two weeks before she died. She had hoped to do it herself but if she could not, Emmet was to do it for her. With her father-in-law Pat, Emmet fulfilled his promise.
Emmet and Josh led the funeral cortege from their home in Ballymitty to St Peter's Church in the rally car he had driven for Niamh's birthday.
Niamh lived and loved and laughed.
She lived the life she wanted to live.
She fought the good fight, she has finished the race, she kept the faith.
She has gained her wings and is free to take flight - sleep tight and watch over us all.
At the end of the memorial mass for Niamh, her husband Emmet read the following poem:
'You never said I'm leaving;
You never said goodbye;
You were gone before we knew it;
And only God knows why;
In life I loved you dearly,
In death I love you still,
In my heart I hold a place,
That only you can fill;
It broke my heart to lose you;
But you didn't go alone;
Part of me went with you;
The day God took you home.'
Love you Niamh from Josh and Emmet.
The support received from each and every strand of people from the GAA to Wexford Motor Club to neighbours and friends, was much appreciated in what was such a hugely sad occasion for everyone.
A Guard of Honour was provided at the church by members of Wexford Motor Club, of which her husband Emmet is a committed member. Flags flew at half-mast at Wexford Park and other venues and a minute's silence was observed as a measure of the regard Niamh and the Furlong and Cleary family are held in.
Niamh was laid to rest in St Peter's cemetery, Ballymitty.
Donations in lieu of flowers were gratefully received and presented to the Hope Centre.
Ar dheis de go raibh a ha-anam dilis.
Niamh's Month's Mind Mass will be in St Peter's Church on Saturday October 29 at 7.30 p.m.