Mental illness ‘one battle we couldn’t win’, couple’s funeral told

The funeral Mass for Jim and Marie Quigley, believed to have died as a result of a murder suicide, heard Mr Quigley had been supported through his battle with a mental illness by his family but this was “one battle we could not win”.

Gardaí suspect Mr Quigley killed his wife at their home near Hackballscross, Co Louth, before driving his car in front of a lorry on the M1 motorway a short time later. They were found within hours of each other last Monday.

On Saturday, more than 1,000 mourners filled St Joseph’s Redemptorist Church in Dundalk to pay their last respects to the couple who came from well-respected and popular families.

Their son-in-law Jeff Ahern described them as “a wonderful couple and wonderful parents who loved each other dearly”, and said they had “stood by each other through thick and thin”.

At the start of the Mass, a number of items was brought up to the altar which symbolised different aspects of their lives. They included an Irish country music CD, a copy of The Racing Post as Jim Quigley loved “a quick flutter, a dare, a chance to win”, and a piece of pottery to represent Marie Quigley’s creativity.

There was a Scania hat to represent the Quigley family business and a clock that reflected the generations of Beagan’s Customs Clearance. Marie, a Beagan, had been a co-director of the family business.

The main celebrant, Fr Tommy Hogan, a family friend, said he has never experienced such unconditional love as that expressed by the family towards Mr Quigley. He said Mr Quigley had a cross in life that he had described to him as being like “a big dark cloud”.

In a conversation a number of years ago Mr Quigley told the priest that when he come out of the dark cloud, “it was like after being drunk; you remember little bits and people tell you [more] and you remember them”.

Mr Quigley had told Fr Hogan that he knew he hurt his family when he was under that cloud, “but do you know something they always forgave me”.

Fr Hogan said that in his time in the priesthood he has never come across “an expression of unconditional love of God that I found in this family”, in the way they had always forgiven him.

Ms Quigley was described in the prayers of the faithful as a woman “of deep faith, a wonderful mother, faithful wife, and friend. Her life was filled with kindness and goodness as well as outreach to those in need”.

A special reflection after Holy Communion was read by Ms Quigley’s sister, Noreen Beagan.

Then the couple’s son-in-law Jeff Aherne spoke and described how they had supported each other throughout their marriage.

He said Ms Quigley was very successful in business, “but she couldn’t have been successful without the love and support of Jim”.

He said Mr Quigley had “reared his children by day before going out to work by night”, and he had been a family man.

Mr Ahern said: “Jim’s illness — which he battled for a number of years — deteriorated from a physical illness to a mental illness.

“Having as a family gone through everything together, this was one battle we just couldn’t win.”

The husband and wife were buried together beside their son Aidan, who died at a young age, in St Patrick’s Cemetery, Dundalk.


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