'Devastated' family remember 'wise and witty' Ruth Morrissey as a woman who helped others

'Devastated' family remember 'wise and witty' Ruth Morrissey as a woman who helped others
The coffin of Ruth Morrissey arrives at Mary Magdalene Church, Monaleen, Limerick for Requiem Mass. Ms Morrissey passed away on Sunday at Milford Hospice following a long battle with cancer. Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22

CervicalCheck campaigner Ruth Morrissey was remembered as wise, witty, and a “natural mother” who had “lived her truth” and reached out to help others, at her funeral Mass today.

In an emotional tribute, Ruth Morrissey’s heartbroken husband, Paul, told the small gathering of family and friends in Mary Magdalene Church in Monaleen, Limerick, that he and their daughter, Libby, may never recover from losing her.

The 39-year-old died on Sunday from cervical cancer. Mrs Morrissey was one of a number of women whose cervical cancer was missed after smear tests were misread.

She took a test case against the HSE and two laboratories at the centre of the CervicalCheck controversy and was subsequently awarded €2.1m in damages.

Paying tribute to his wife and “best friend”, Paul Morrissey said she was caring, loving, wise, and witty as well as a “natural mother” to their daughter Libby.

"She was wise beyond her years - so intelligent but she was also great fun, very witty, and people were drawn to her. I don't know how I got so lucky when she agreed to come my way," Mr Morrissey said.

“In 2011, we became a team of three 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. Spending time together was the most important thing to Ruth.

"Libby has inherited so many of Ruth's qualities. They had a special bond. Libby made a card for her Mam on Saturday and she signed it 'mini Ruth' - that says it all.”

Speaking about the battles Ruth had faced, he said, "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. 

Ruth Morrissey’s daughter Libby carrying a yellow rose following Requiem Mass for her mum today. Photograph Liam Burke/Press 22
Ruth Morrissey’s daughter Libby carrying a yellow rose following Requiem Mass for her mum today. Photograph Liam Burke/Press 22

"She carried it all with great dignity and she still managed to keep her sense of humour and appreciate the simple and important things in life."

Mr Morrissey broke down as he concluded his tribute.

Me and Libby are truly heartbroken and devastated. I don't think we will ever recover from losing Ruth.

A family photo, jellies, a jar of Creme de la Mer moisturiser, and a butterfly were offered as symbols of who Ruth was, the butterfly representing “endurance, hope, and resurrection”.

Fr Noel Kirwan said Ruth’s strength, love, and kindness was illustrated by the fact that, despite her own struggles, she reached out to help other women.

“She lived her truth and the truth that she spoke challenged all around her. But not challenged to put down, but challenged to lift up. 

"Challenged to live better, to do better, to want more, to give more, for the sake of others, for others lives to be better. That’s an amazing beautiful truth that she had within her,” Fr Kirwan told the congregation.

As Ruth’s coffin left the church, the song ‘Roar’ by Katy Perry played.

A photo of Ruth Morrissey at her funeral today. Photo: Brendan Gleeson
A photo of Ruth Morrissey at her funeral today. Photo: Brendan Gleeson

Members of the 221+ cervical cancer support group formed a guard of honour to pay their respects. In a statement on Tuesday, the support group paid tribute to Ruth for her “courage” and said she would not be forgotten. 

“Now is a time for reflection. Ruth Morrissey only ever asked that the women of Ireland be treated with the dignity and respect that should accrue in a nation that serves to cherish all equally,” the group said.

CervicalCheck campaigners Vicky Phelan and Lorraine Walsh and Labour leader Alan Kelly were among the mourners. The aide-de-camp for the President and for the Taoiseach were also in attendance.

Meanwhile, HSE chief executive Paul Reid paid tribute to Mrs Morrissey as an "incredibly courageous woman" and confirmed he had written to Mr Morrissey to express the HSE's deepest sympathies and apology for what happened.

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