‘May the angels look after Mammy’: Funeral held of runner who died in Comeraghs

Gillian Ryan (37) brought ‘joy and light to so many people’ and ‘adored’ her family

The funeral of a mother-of-two whose body was found on the Comeragh Mountains in Co Waterford earlier this week has heard she brought "joy and light to so many people" and "adored" her family.

Gillian Ryan (37), from Thurles, Co Tipperary was also remembered for her love of athletics, cross country and road-running.

Ms Ryan went missing on Sunday afternoon while hiking in the popular Coumshingaun area. Her body was discovered on Monday evening following searches by the Mountain Rescue Teams and Emergency Services.

Her funeral took place at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Thurles on Saturday morning, which was attended by her husband Conor, daughter Amelia Rose and son Conor Jamie and parents.


Fr George Bourke, who led the service, said Ms Ryan lived "too short a life" but "crowded so much into her short life".

“Gillian let her light shine, she brought joy and light to so many people, so many speak of her as kind and friendly and generous, one that would lift your spirit with her lovely smile and good humour. To walk or run in her company, your journey would be shortened,” Fr Bourke said.

“Throughout her working life as a hairdresser, her clients were not just clients, they were friends. They truly appreciated her skills, her personal interest in each one of them.”

Fr Bourke said she had won local and national titles in running and cross country and was a member of Thurles Crokes Athletics Club.

“Gillian was happy out in the fresh air enjoying the countryside, the beauty of nature, the changing seasons, the high places, the coastal paths, the family outings,” he said.

“She adored you, her family, looking after you, with all her homemaking skills, the brown bread, the baking, the desserts.”

Fr Bourke also said Ms Ryan was “a young woman of strong faith” and that she would “often drop in here to say a quiet prayer, to light a candle”.

He said she “touched the lives of so many” through her small daily acts of kindness and was a “beautiful person, loving, kind, elegant, encouraging and so much more”.

Fr Bourke said her parting was “so unexpected” and that her family was grateful to all those involved in her search including voluntary rescue teams, gardai, local people and others who helped.

“Sadly the return was not what was expected at the beginning of the search but the family are grateful that Gillian was brought home, home to her family in Ashill,” he added.

Offertory gifts included a family photograph, her runners and a pair of scissors for cutting hair. Her children and friends gave the prayers of the faithful. “We pray for Mammy, we think of all the fun times we had together, may the angels look after Mammy,” her children said.

Burial took place afterwards in St Peter’s Cemetery, Moycarkey.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times