Priest tells mourners ‘the violence is now at our own door’

Funeral of Larry and Martina Hayes, killed in Tunisian attack, brings Athlone to standstill

The funeral of Larry and Martina Hayes leaves  the Church of St Peter & Pauls, Athlone for the cemetary. Photograph: Collins

The funeral of Larry and Martina Hayes leaves the Church of St Peter & Pauls, Athlone for the cemetary. Photograph: Collins

 

The murderous ideology of Islamic State visited Athlone in a visceral way, the mourners at the funerals of Larry (Lonnie) and Martina Hayes, who died in last week’s deadly attack were told. Two hearses outside a church bore testimony to the hatred which seemed so far away last week and is now so close.

The images on television screens in dusty parts of the Middle East were “sanitised and sterilised,” Fr Liam Devine told the congregation. “The violence is now at our own door.”

A guard of honour from Mr Hayes’s work colleagues at Bus Éireann and another from their daughter Sinéad’s fellow volunteers in the Order of Malta accompanied the funeral procession.

As the hearses crossed the river Shannon to their final resting place in Coosan Cemetery, the town of Athlone came to a standstill.

The couple’s murder by Seifeddine Rezgui, who killed 38 tourists in a beach resort in Tunisia last week, left the Hayes’s only child Sinéad without a mother or father. The day of her parents’ funeral was also her birthday.

The hearse carrying her father’s remains had a photograph of the three of them in happy times.

“It is impossible to get inside the mind of someone who would carry out such an abominable act of violence. We cannot judge people like that by our values and standards,” Fr Devine said. Violence solved nothing. It was simply “evil”.

‘Peace be upon you’

Michael Hayes

Michael Hayes uttered the Arabic words “as-salamu alaykum” (peace be upon you) in his tribute to his brother and sister-in-law. The Muslim community in Ireland was represented by Shaykh Umar Al Qadri from the Irish Muslim Council.

The imposing Church of St Peter and St Paul was full to its 2,000 capacity for the funeral.

The congregation heard of a couple who were “soulmates”. Both were the youngest in their respective families, he was one of five, she was one of 11.

They went everywhere together, tended to their strawberries and flowers and kept a house so neat and tidy that no fingerprints could be found in it for identification purposes.

The funeral of Lorna Carty who was also killed in the Tunisian attacks takes place at noon today in the Church of the Assumption, Robinstown, Co Meath.