Gifts presented at the altar for the Requiem Mass of Valerie Greaney signified the great loves of her life.
They included a teacup; bingo cards; a uniform from Gills — a fast food restaurant where she worked; and a picture of herself and her husband Michael in happier times.
Chief celebrant Fr Patrick O’Donoghue CC said those attending yesterday’s Mass at St Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh “had come together as a community to mourn the unexpected loss of one of our own in this Christmas season, a time which we normally associate with new life, family, festivity and celebration”.
“For us the season has changed and we turn to the God whose presence is amongst us to provide meaning, support and light to scatter the darkness that now hangs over our town.”
He said Valerie was heavily involved in rowing and in many other clubs and organisations.
“She loved going to bingo, or the movies and had travelled much in her younger days. She had many changing hairstyles to reflect her outgoing character; she would often be one of the last to leave a party and had built up a wide circle of friends, of all ages.”
Fr O’Donoghue said Valerie had a great love of dancing and singing and she could be found dancing at home, sometimes while making the dinner, “even if there was a dispute as to whether she needed dancing lessons or not”.
“Valerie worked hard, especially for her family, without complaint. She was a very caring person, and she cared for her (late) mother and father at home for a long time. She was always dedicated to her family life, and they did everything together.”
The curate said: “Board games, movies and holidays were all special shared times and Valerie dedicated herself completely to every moment with her family.
“Valerie was known in her extended family as someone who was always quick to forgive.
“She would often just walk away from an argument, moving on quickly from the argued point.
“You would have to go far to find anyone who would have a bad word to say about her and she herself would have very few bad words to say about anyone.”
Fr O’Donoghue told mourners: “We are at a stage now where we are left with many questions where there are no answers, and many where we will never have an answer and to explore them would not give us much in return. Quick answers which seem to fit will not help here.”
But he said mourners “could trust that the great and small acts of love that Valerie performed in this life will be greatly rewarded by God in the next”.
Mass was concelebrated by Fr John McCarthy, administrator of St Colman’s Cathedral, local priests Jim Killeen, Peter O’Farrell and Jim Moore, as well as Fr Pat Linehan, PP Ballyhea, where Valerie’s husband Michael was from originally.
It was presided over by Bishop of Cloyne William Crean, who said the congregation should take comfort in the hope that they would one day see Valerie again.
Valerie’s only sister, Hylda Murphy, gave the second reading and a moving post-Communion reflection in the form of a short poem:
“You can shed tears that she is gone or you can smile because she has lived. You can close your eyes and pray that she comes back or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left.
“Your heart can be empty because you cannot see her, or you can be full of the love you shared. You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday, or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
“You can remember her and only that she is gone, or you can cherish her memory and let it live on. You can cry and close your mind and be empty and turn your back, or you can do what she would want — smile, open your eyes, love and go on,” said Hylda.
A huge crowd of mourners walked behind the hearse as it travelled half a mile from the cathedral to her final resting place in St Colman’s Cemetery.
Her husband Michael, who stabbed Valerie to death and then took his own life, will be buried in the same family plot this weekend.
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