AN emotional and moving tribute was paid to his late sister, Valerie French-Kilroy, by her brother David French at the funeral service for the 41-year-old mother of three in St Fachtna’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Rosscarbery, West Cork, this (Thursday) afternoon.
Introducing himself to the congregation, David prefaced his tribute by saying: ‘This is difficult, please bear with me.’
He opened his remarks by saying: ‘First and most importantly, Valerie’s three young sons are almost unaware of the catastrophe that has unfolded around them. Their wellbeing and their future will be our priority just as it was Valerie’s.
‘We are here to celebrate Valerie’s wonderful life not to remember the horrific circumstances of her death.
‘The name Valerie means strong and valiant.
‘As you all know Valerie was an immensely caring and loving person. It was her calling both at home and at work throughout her life.
‘Valerie’s profession was to be an occupational therapist. These are Valerie’s own words from an article she wrote ten years ago:
‘"I work as an occupational therapist (OT) in the mental health community services covering north Mayo. Along with distressing symptoms, psychiatric illnesses can turn the lives of individuals and their families into disarray.
“My role is to work with people to enable them to return to doing everyday activities, so they can take control of their world and regain a meaningful life for themselves.
My day is as varied as the needs of the people I work with".’
‘Before Valerie sat her first exam when she entered secondary school, we all thought of her as a happy go lucky little faerie who entertained us with her antics and activities. We mistakenly assumed she came into that euphemistic category of “not very interested in school.” That was before she sat the exam.
‘Valerie had a wonderful laugh and just like our father, whom she adored, she had a great sense of fun and enjoyment, an immense capacity for work and a deep connection with people across the community wherever she was.
‘‘Valerie could also be very serious, but only when necessary.
Valerie was very practical and capable across a wide range of areas. She loved music, festivals, storytelling, art, crafts, nature, gardening and animals.
‘No one is without faults, Valerie was very human. Valerie would leave you in no doubt about things and could communicate very directly when that was required.
Maybe she appreciated more than the rest of us how precious time together with people we love really is.’
Poignantly, David added: ‘Please pray for the person responsible for her death.’
He quoted some lines from Yeats:
‘But clinging mortal hope must fall from you,
For we who ride the winds, run on the waves,
and dance upon the mountains are more light
than dewdrops on the banner of the dawn
‘You shall go with me, newly-married bride,
And gaze upon a merrier multitude.
Where beauty has no ebb, decay no flood,
But joy is wisdom, Time an endless song.
I kiss you and the world begins to fade.’
He urged the congregation: ‘Above all else, please pray for the future of Valerie’s three sons. Please pray that they will grow up to be the men their mother wanted to see, with lives as full of laughter, love, joy, happiness and hope as hers was.
‘Finally, I would like to thank the people and services of the Irish State, an Garda Siochána, the HSE, Tusla, the funeral directors and the many other dedicated professionals who deal with these situations more often than the rest of us.
As a close family friend often says: “We are only put here to help each other”.
‘Valerie was put here to help us.’