Garda who died in floods laid to rest

 

MOURNERS PACKED a small rural church yesterday for the funeral of the Co Wicklow garda killed in Monday’s floods.

Ciarán Jones (25) was swept to his death in the river Liffey at the Ballysmuttan Bridge near his home in Manor Kilbride, west Co Wicklow, as he came to the aid of motorists during torrential rain.

The body of the off-duty garda was found on Tuesday morning some 4km downstream from where he entered the water.

Garda Jones’s mother and father Brenda and John, brother Alan, sister Michelle and girlfriend Clare Kennedy, were the chief mourners yesterday.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter attended the funeral Mass at St Brigid’s Church in Garda Jones’s home village.

Also there to pay their respects were Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, the President’s representative Comdt Michael Walsh, and Brian Purcell, secretary general of the Department of Justice.

In a moving tribute to Garda Jones – who was also a member of the Wicklow football team – his girlfriend Ms Kennedy told mourners of “the pride of Kilbride”. Addressing the packed church, she said she kept a diary as a schoolgirl and she told how on Thursday night she had gone through her teenage writings to try to find something to say.

Fighting back her emotions, she read a passage from February 28th, 2003, when the then 14-year- old had recorded how Ciarán Jones – “the untouchable 5th year” – had begun sending text messages to her. “News of the century . . . I think he likes me,” the diary entry ended, she said.

“Months later Ciarán told me he was going to phone me for the first time and I had written down a list of topics for a conversation should we run out of things to talk about, but we didn’t need them, we were never stuck for words.

“Now I would write ‘thank you for the last eight years . . . I loved you and I will continue to love you’.” She added: “Our hearts are broken but I have no doubt he will continue to protect us . . . he was the pride of Kilbride.”

Garda Jones’s father John kept his hand on his son’s coffin throughout the service.

Offertory gifts included a rugby ball and a Clondalkin rugby jersey, the team he represented, and a Garda hat and gloves.

Fr Pádraig McDermott said Garda Jones was a “beautiful person” and a “leading light in our community”. He added: “I’m too old and I know nothing about Facebook but I’ve seen the many comments and if you want to know who Ciarán is, you should go to Facebook and read the comments.”

Garda Jones was buried after his funeral Mass in the adjoining cemetery with full Garda honours. He was led to his final resting place by the Garda Band.