Drogheda remembers Jill Meagher

Fri, Sep 28, 2012, 01:00

Thousands of people signed books of condolences and the tricolour outside the local authority office was flown at half-mast as a mark of respect in Jill Meagher’s hometown of Drogheda, county Louth, today.

At her former school in the town, St Oliver’s Community College, photographs of their much loved past pupil on the day she got her Leaving Certificate results were placed beside a book of condolence in the schools meditation room.

“We can see from the reaction of students that it is important for them to have this. She sat where they are sitting now. Once are students are part of the school community they never lose that,” said principal John Halpin.

On the school staff is Julie Cullen who had met Jill when she went to UCD. “I went to UCD on the first day and knew nobody there. There were 20,000 people there and it was her who introduced herself to me and we became the best of friends.”

“We got on like a house on fire, I don’t think I would have made it through UCD without Jill because she was such a great support to me and such a great friend. We were the best of friends there.”

She said the way Jill disappeared will stay with women right around the World, “I don’t think women all over the World will ever feel fully safe again. It is something we have all done, we have all gone out alone and walked somewhere we probably shouldn’t have and we will think twice about it now.”

Jill’s uncle Michael McKeon said Jill will be remembered as, “very bubbly, very outgoing and every place she worked she was promoted because she was so valued as a work colleague.”

He said, “the town in Drogheda has come together. We (family) have been in the town a long time. My father had a pub on Laurence Street and there is a lot of support coming in, people calling to the house. We have had a lot of support through the media as well and social media. We would ask people to be restrained because there is a court case in relation to this.”

“It’s a difficult time, it’s a time you don’t expect to experience. We are finding it difficult to cope with. We are finding it difficult to understand how a parent could lose their child. You don’t expect to bury a child… you just don’t expect to do that.”

He said that funeral arrangements have not been finalised but if Jill’s final resting place is in Australia that there will be a service in Drogheda as well.

“People have been texting and through Facebook have been expressing condolences; social media has taken on a complete new meaning for me, it is a great thing to have.”

In the Laurence Town shopping centre 400 people an hour were signing books of condolence.

“We want her family to know that we are thinking of them and praying for them. It is nearly personal for me because I have a daughter who lives in Australia. For a mother the loss of a child must be the hardest thing,” said Grace McBride in the Laurence Town Shopping Centre.

“At this point thousands of people have signed the book. We wanted to give them a way to express their sadness and sorrow at the passing of Jill. Everyone in here today has said they felt very sorry for her family and we will pass on the books to them,” said centre operations manager Susan Dunne.

The Mayor of Drogheda Paul Bell said, “Today as first citizen of Drogheda, I feel a huge sense of grief and sadness for the loss of a most beautiful human being and can only sympathise with Jill’s family in what can only be described as unbearable pain and shock at the loss of their relative and friend.”

He said he has been in contact with the Mayor of Melbourne and the tricolour outside Drogheda Borough Council offices was at half-mast as a mark of respect.

Cllr Bell will open a book of condolence on Monday morning in Drogheda.