CervicalCheck campaigner Ruth Morrissey was a “beautiful soul” who showed great resilience and strength in her final years, her funeral has heard.
Mrs Morrissey, who died on Sunday aged 39, was among hundreds of women affected by the controversy around incorrect smear test results.
Close friends and family gathered at Mary Magdalene Church in Monaleen, Co Limerick, for her funeral mass.
The mother-of-one’s death comes two years after her €2.1m High Court win against the Health Service Executive (HSE) and two laboratories over the misreading of two cervical smear tests.
Delivering a personal tribute at the service, Mrs Morrissey’s husband Paul said his wife was “stunningly beautiful, caring and wise”.
Libby has inherited so many of Ruth's qualities. She made a card for her mother on Saturday and signed it 'mini Ruth' - I think that says it allPaul Morrissey
He added: “I met Ruth Maloney when she was 17 and I was 19. From that moment on, it was just the two of us – a team.
“Ruth was my girlfriend but she was also my best friend. We did everything together and it helped that we were both Man United supporters.
“It is no secret that in our relationship, Ruth was the boss. I was quite simply happy with the arrangement – it suited me. I knew she was right.
“Not only was Ruth stunningly beautiful with a smile that would light up any room that she walked into, she was so loving and caring and well able to give sound advice, whether you wanted to hear it at the time or not.
“She was wise beyond her years – so witty, great fun and people were drawn to her. I don’t know how I got so lucky when she agreed to come my way.”
Mr Morrissey became emotional as he spoke about his daughter Libby.
He said: “In 2011, we became a trio when our amazing daughter Libby was born. Ruth was a natural mother, she adored Libby and Libby made Ruth so proud and happy.
“Everything we did was as a family and spending time together was so important to Ruth.
“Libby has inherited so many of Ruth’s qualities. She made a card for her mother on Saturday and signed it ‘mini Ruth’ – I think that says it all.
“I always knew Ruth was a strong person but the resilience and bravery she showed every day, whether having treatment, going through the court case or dealing with the pain, never ceased to amaze me.
“She carried it all with great dignity and still managed to keep her sense of humour and appreciate the simple things in life.”
Mr Morrissey broke down as he added: “Me and Libby are truly heartbroken and devastated. I don’t think we will ever recover from losing Ruth.”
A bag of jelly sweets to represent her sweet tooth, a butterfly and a jar of face cream were among the symbols brought up to the altar.
Fr Pat Hogan also paid tribute to Mrs Morrissey.
He said: “There is a day ahead when God will bring us all together because that is what the resurrection is, a promise of eternal life together.
“May her beautiful soul guide us. May her beautiful soul give us strength, may her beautiful soul lead us on to that day of reunion and may she rest in peace now – her journey over and her battle ended but her life eternal.
“The final thought I will leave you with… even though she was part of a big family, it was said she could have been an only child.
“From the very beginning, she was content within herself and joyful within herself, but it was because she was cocooned in love. She was cocooned in love and so she was at home in her life.”
A large crowd gathered outside the church as the coffin was taken to a private burial.
The song Roar by Katy Perry was played as Mrs Morrissey’s coffin left the church. and her daughter Libby carried a single yellow rose.
CervicalCheck campaigners Vicky Phelan and Lorraine Walsh and Irish Labour Party leader Alan Kelly were among the mourners.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin and President Michael D Higgins were represented by their aide-de-camps.
Meanwhile, HSE chief executive Paul Reid paid tribute to Mrs Morrissey as an “incredibly courageous woman” and offered his sympathies to her family.
Mr Reid said he has written to her husband to express the HSE’s deepest sympathies and apology for what happened to her.
A minute’s silence was held in the Dail on Tuesday in honour of Mrs Morrissey.
Mr Martin said the Government acknowledged the failures of CervicalCheck and was profoundly sorry about what had been allowed to happen.
He added: “Those of us who were here and have the responsibility of elected office have a solemn duty to learn the lessons from these errors, to reform the system and to make sure they never happen again.”
He said Health Minister Stephen Donnelly is in the process of appointing a new judge to the CervicalCheck tribunal.