Funeral of murdered Real IRA man held

‘Disbelief’ of rural community after 35-year-old shot dead in pub cark park

 

DAN KEENAN in Togher, Co Louth

The small rural community of Togher has turned out by the hundred for the funeral Mass of the man shot dead in a Co Meath pub.

An atmosphere of shock and disbelief shrouded the church of St Columcille in the tranquil parish in the Louth countryside as the funeral cortege of Peter Butterly arrived for requiem Mass.

The deceased (35), who had dissident republican links, was shot dead in the car park of the Huntsman Inn, a well-known pub near Gormanston. He had been due to stand trial on charges of membership of an illegal organisation, namely the Real IRA.

Mourners were led by the dead man’s widow Eithne, his two daughters Aoife and Ciara, and son Matthew who followed the coffin which was simply adorned with two wreaths of flowers. The wider family circle included the dead man’s parents Vera and Matt and his sisters Barbara and Mary.

The coffin was received by Fr Thomas Daly, who led the concelebrated mass along with priests from adjoining parishes. He told the hushed congregation which had packed the church of the sense of disbelief that had descended on the community since news of the murder emerged.

The lessons were read by family members and included verses from St Paul’s letter to the Romans in which he said: “Death has no power over him any more.”

In his homily Fr Daly said the days since the murder had been very difficult for everyone locally.

“This has been almost the only topic of conversation in the parish,” he said. “In the schools, in the shops, in the GAA, in farming circles — every single day since it happened. It has been very traumatic for this community — but most of all for his family, for Eithne and the children.”

He said it when such a killing takes place within the local community that the full impact of such a death is felt.

“No person has been killed in this parish in such a way for almost a century,” he said. “For Peter the journey has ended but for his family the journey continues.”

He said the days ahead would be very difficult as they “progress without him”. The dead man had many blessings in his life, Fr Daly continued, and he referred to his parents and the strong family bonds they had strived to create within the family home. He spoke similarly of his “loyal and supportive” widow, their three children who, he said, were truly a blessing and the farm work he shared with his father. “He leaves behind a family that is heart-broken and has many questions for which there are no answers.”

Fr Daly commended the congregation on behalf of the dead man’s parents for the manner in which the local community had rallied around the bereaved and the support they had shown in the midst of their tragedy. Following Mass, the cortege made its way from the church to the cemetery at Clonmore a few kilometres away. There, the remains were interred as two gardaí maintained a discreet distance.