By David Raleigh
Loved ones of promising jockey, Laura Barry, carried her coffin the final furlong of her racing life, following her funeral mass today.
The 25-year-old, from Raheen in Limerick, who had begun to carve out a career in the saddle in the UK, had lost a brave battle with cancer last Friday, a day before her wedding was due to take place.
Laura passed away peacefully at Milford Hospice, Limerick.
She had been due to marry Ben Hamilton, a brother of jockey Tony Hamilton, at a ceremony last Saturday.
As her poignant funeral mass took place in St John’s Cathedral in Limerick, Ms Barry’s fellow jockeys paid their respects by observing a minute's silence, dressed in their silks, at Ripon Racecourse, North Yorkshire.
Laura Barry rode 18 winners in a 193-ride career from 2010 to 2014.
Speaking at her funeral mass, Fr Noel Kirwan told mourners there had been “so much joy in the build up to the wedding”.
“For Laura, it was about everyone else.
“She was wondering who was going to do this person’s hair or where was this person going to stay. It was all about everyone else.
“It became the tool with which she battled through her illness. It gave her such strength,” Fr Kirwan said.
“The journey towards her wedding was a journey towards a great outpouring of love. And now, there is a great outpouring of love for Laura.”
Ms Barry was remembered as a “warrior” in her profession with a bounding energy for her beloved sport.
“She was feisty,” Fr Kirwan said.
“One of the freedoms that Laura had in all of this is the freedom to speak her mind while undergoing treatment or being given medication.”
The demands of her career as a jockey had prepared her for the harsh course ahead following her cancer diagnosis.
“Racing is a tough and difficult life. It demands long hours and huge dedication, it demands that you be part of a team that’s willing to do everything that’s necessary to get this horse in a position that it might win this race.”
Fr Kirwan said Ms Barry loved, and was loved deeply.
“Love travels a strange and mysterious journey, it takes you to strange and mysterious places,” he said.
“Laura had the gift of motherhood. She had so many friends, and she cared for each person individually.”
Ms Barry was diagnosed with an aggressive and rare form of nerve cancer in 2016.
She had learned her craft in northern England as an apprentice for Richard Fahey.
Speaking to the Racing Post following news of her death, Mr Fahey said: “She was a wonderful, wonderful person and she passed away with dignity.”
“She was a super girl, just a super, super girl, and it's so very sad for everyone.”
Laura is survived by her parents Catherine and David, her sisters Alison and Kate, and her step-son Harry.
Following her mass, a private cremation took place in Shannon, Co Clare.
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