Family and friends bid farewell to 'beautiful, funny, quirky' Jill Meagher


MURDERED IRISHWOMAN Jill Meagher was happiest when making others laugh, her husband said at her funeral yesterday.

Thomas Meagher was addressing a small group of family and friends at a private service for his 29-year-old wife in Melbourne. Ms Meagher, who emigrated with her husband to Australia from Drogheda three years ago, was murdered in Melbourne last month.

Fawkner Memorial Park was closed to the public for the hour-long service, during which the ABC radio employee was remembered for her ambitious and fun-loving nature, and her love of fashion and literature.

Mr Meagher said his wife was happiest when she was making others laugh. “I couldn’t ask for more loyalty, happiness and fun,” he said. “Goodbye my beautiful, funny girl. I’ll love you forever. Slán abhaile, mo chara.”

The low-key event was in marked contrast to last weekend’s community march in her memory, which saw 30,000 people turn out in the north inner suburb of Brunswick, where Ms Meagher lived and where she was last seen on September 22nd.

A bus was chartered to take colleagues from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and friends to the park’s Crick Chapel. Several wore colourful footwear in tribute to what her mother described as Ms Meagher’s love of “crazy shoes”. The family, including her husband Thomas, parents Edith and George McKeon and her brother Michael, arrived a short time later.

The song Come Back by Depeche Mode was played as the service began at 10.30am.

George McKeon was overcome with emotion as he read a card he and his wife sent to their daughter in 2004, in which they told her how much they missed her “and she kept it to this day”. He spoke of the pain of being separated from her.

“Please know that you are an important part of my life. Though we can’t be together right now we are together in our thoughts and memories. Goodbye, Jillian, goodbye,” he said.

A friend read a poem, describing Ms Meagher as “strong intelligent and beautiful, funny, quirky and never dull”.

Another said she was the funniest person she had ever met and drew laughter when she added: “She is the first person I have ever known to actually slip on a banana skin, and she was proud of it.”

The crowd was then invited to take a moment to dance in her memory. From the moment she was born she was fantastic,” her mother noted, recalling her “huge energy”, and how she had style despite being “a messy creature and clumsy as hell”. She mentioned her love of “the craic”, and the importance of her friends. “She was precious to us and we loved her,” she said.

“I wouldn’t be who I am without her. She was our strength and I feel lost without her,” Ms Meagher’s brother Michael said.

The celebrant said she was confident Ms Meagher’s only regret could be that she never got to finish James Joyce’s Ulysses. She challenged the crowd to do so to honour her memory.

The ceremony wrapped up with a slideshow of photographs of Ms Meagher, accompanied by her favourite songs, Make Your Own Kind of Music by The Mamas the Papas, Girl from the North Country sung in duet by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, and Edith Piaf’s Non, Je ne Regrette Rien.

Outside, the crowd gathered briefly as a small stereo played Celine Dion’s Fly and 29 doves were released, one for each year of Ms Meagher’s life.

Mr and Ms McKeon will take their daughter’s ashes back to Perth in western Australia.

On Thursday they issued a statement asking the public to respect their wish to grieve in private. “We cannot begin to convey the overwhelming feelings of grief, sadness and sorrow at the loss of our beloved Jill,” the statement read.

Adrian Ernest Bayley (41) has been charged with Ms Meagher’s rape and murder.