Earlier, in the church, where hundreds had come to say their farewells, the congregation had burst into spontaneous applause when they were told Casper’s ashes were safe with Peggy in her coffin.
The mourners were not just clapping a heroic dog who stayed by his owner’s side for days after she died, only to pass away himself hours after rescue, but applauding the very qualities of friendship and faithfulness that epitomised Peggy and Casper and sustained the Mangan family after the pair went missing.
Friendship was offered from all over the south Dublin neighbourhood of Terenure where Peggy and Casper lived and were a familiar sight on their daily strolls, from the northside communities of Ballymun and Finglas where Peggy accidentally wandered and died, and from all across the country, where the story of her disappearance and discovery touched and broke hearts.
Mourners carry the remains of Peggy Mangan from Mount Argus Church in Dublin after her funeral Mass yesterday
Even in his grief, her husband Tommy could not help but be lifted by the reaction to his family’s panicked plea to the public for help in finding Peggy after she went missing early last week.
As he prepared for his wife’s funeral, Tommy told local priest Fr Joe Kennedy that he and his family could not get over the number of messages, calls, and tributes they had received about Peggy, many from people they did not know.
“Bad things happen almost every day in our country, but there are so many good people across the city and indeed around the country who are there when the time calls for being kind and supportive,” said Tommy.
Those good people were there again yesterday at Mount Argus Church in Dublin — neighbours and friends, many accompanied by their dogs; volunteer searchers, gardaí, members of the Alzheimer’s Society who understood the confusion that Peggy sometimes grappled with, and members of Paws, the DSPCA, and other animal charities.
The remains were brought to Mount Jerome Crematorium
Fr Kennedy welcomed them on behalf of Tommy, their daughters Louise and Orla, son Jonathan, two sons-in-law and six grandchildren. Also among the mourners were Timmy, William, Edmond, and John Dinneen, the surviving siblings of Peggy, “a proud Corkwoman” who was originally from Milltown near Castlemartyr.
Instead of the traditional homily, Fr Kennedy, at the family’s request, read out a messages posted online about Peggy during the five days she and her Cavalier King Charles spaniel were missing and in the hours after they were found.
A child had written: “I pray Peggy and Casper are together now in heaven as they were on earth. I pray for peace of mind for both of them, and for Casper and his devotion to his lovely lady Peggy.”
Someone who had never met her explained the hold Peggy had on the nation: “She became everybody’s mother who was missing and had to be found.”
Noting that it was, appropriately, the feast day of St Francis of Assisi, the saint who loved animals, Fr Kennedy said: “As you go around Dublin, and indeed around the country, you see people out walking their dogs. When you see that think about Peggy and Casper and say a little prayer for them.”
Family members are consoled after the funeral
There were also prayers for Limerick teenager, Chloe Kinsella, whose safe return the congregation wished for, although sadly they would emerge from the church to hear her remains had been found.
However, there was also laughter during the ceremony as the gifts were brought to the altar, including a packet of Cadbury’s chocolate fingers, Peggy and Casper’s favourite treat. Peggy’s son-in-law Darragh Lynch also raised smiles as he spoke of Peggy preparing for her walks “in her comfy shoes and two odd socks”.
The family took comfort from the fact that, on the day Peggy left them, she stumbled upon the set of the movie of a favourite TV programme, Mrs Brown’s Boys, and walked away after meeting the cast with a great smile on her face.
“That’s how we want to remember her — with that big broad smile.”