There were heartbreaking scenes as the young son of champion jockey John Thomas McNamara asked angels to look after his dad who passed away last Tuesday, writes David Raleigh.
The Limerick rider passed away following a three-year battle against injuries he sustained in a fall at the Cheltenham Festival in 2013.
"Thank you God for my Dad. We ask the angels to take good care of you. We love you Dad," JT's youngest son Harry said, as he bravely delivered a prayer of the faithful at his father's funerals in St Michael's Church, Manister, Co Limerick.
Hundreds of mourners, including fellow champion jockeys Ruby Walsh, AP McCoy, and Tony McCoy, performed a guard of honour, as Mr McNamara's oak coffin was shouldered from the church to the adjoining cemetery.
Other well-known faces from the racing world travelled from their bases at the Galway Racing Festival Meeting to pay their respects, including McNamara's former boss, JP McManus; Christopher "Mouse" Morris, and a host of elite trainers and breeders.
JT's first cousin, jockey Robert McNamara - who was also paralysed from the waist down in a fall in 2015 - but who has managed to get back up on the saddle following surgery and gruelling sessions of physiotherapy, attended the mass and graveside in a wheelchair - a reminder of the dangers faced on a daily basis by the jockeys.
Chief celebrant, Canon Garry Bluett, retired PP Manister, described his late friend JT, as a "prince" with "a kind and generous soul".
McNamara had won 600-times in the McManus silks, riding all the way to the top of his sport.
Tears flowed as the 41-year old's three young children, Dylan, Harry, and Olivia, held onto their mother, as each dropped a single white rose onto their father's coffin as he was laid to rest.
Mr McNamara had fought his hardest race, having been left paralysed from the neck down.
In a loving tribute, his widow, Caroline, said he "was an amazing sports man, great husband, and father."
The congregation hummed warmly with laughter as Ms McNamara recalled the birth of the couple's second child Harry: "(John) was more concerned with how long the labour would be, as he needed to be in Punchestown that afternoon to ride L'Ami. I'm still wondering which one he was more delighted with, the win, or the Harry."
She described how "nearing the end" of her husband's riding career, JT's life "took a horrendous turn, and one we will never forget."
"He handled it with strength and courage," she added.
Ms McNamara thanked the Irish Injured Jockeys Club, Irish Turf Club, and the Injured Jockeys Fund UK, for their help in helping to bring her injured husband back home from England where he underwent life-saving surgery.
The family brought along gifts synonymous with with John Thomas's racing career, including his riding helmet colours, and a photograph of him with one of his beloved horses.
Paying tribute, Fr Bluett said: "After a long struggle, he has ran the race and finished the course. He had a good life, a life which should be an inspiration to us all."
"He was a hero to many people."
The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, was represented at JT McNamara's funeral today by his aide de camp, Commandant Kieran Carey, Irish Defence Forces.
The President, Michael D Higgins was represented by his aide de camp, Lt Col Michael Kiernan, Irish Defence Forces.