Devastated wife of JT McNamara delivers moving tribute at his funeral
THE devastated wife of jockey JT McNamara has paid an emotional tribute to her husband’s courage, saying he had continued to set himself goals “all the time” and that getting back home and out to his yard had been a major one he had achieved.
Caroline McNamara received a standing ovation today at the funeral in Manister, Co Limerick after her words.
She told mourners that though they had faced “many, many difficult days” since the tragic accident in Chelteham three years ago, the intervening time had allowed John to spend more time with their three children, Dylan, Olivia and Harry and granted time for the children to build “precious memories of their dad.”
And she thanked the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund, the Turf Club and the Injured Jockeys Fund UK, saying that without their assistance, “JT’s return would not have been possible.”
Tears slid down the cheeks of mourners as little Harry said a prayer of the faithful, thanking God for “my dad” and saying; “We ask the angels to take good care of you. We love you dad.”
President Michael D Higgins was represented by his ADC, Commandant Michael Kieran while Taoiseach Enda Kenny was represented by ADC, Kieran Carey.
Many senior figures from the world of racing filled the little church at Manister, where JT had been a faithful mass-goer.
They included JP McManus, wife Noreen and sons John and Kieran.
Mr McManus later paid tribute to TJ McNamara , saying: “His death is not in vain.”
The lives and welfare of many jockeys will be much improved because of what had happened, he said.
Trainers Ted Walsh senior, Mouse Morris, Tom Taaffe, Willie Mullins, Enda Bulger and Gordon Elliot were amongst those present.
Around 30 jockeys formed a guard of honour as the remains left the church for burial. Amongst those who attended were Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty, Nina Carberry, AP McCoy, Davy Russell, Robbie Power – sporting cuts on his forehead from the Galway Festival yesterday, John Joe O’Neill, Robbie McNamara and former jockey Mick Kinane.
Chief celebrant of the funeral, Canon Gary Bluett paid tribute to JT in the words of Shakespeare, saying: “Goodnight sweet prince, and may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
“That was Hamlet - Prince of Denmark, John - Prince of Manister. May he rest in peace,” he said.
Afterwards, Ruby Walsh spoke of JT’s courage and fortitude in the face of such hardship.
"Today is a very sad day but three years ago in Cheltenham was a very sad day,” he recalled.
"His mental strength and his will power for the last three years have been incredible. So too have Caroline's and all his family.
"I guess to be dealt the cards he was dealt on that day in Cheltenham are the worst. They are any jockeys' worst nightmare come true.
"I guess wherever he is now at least he's not suffering anymore.
"We spoke as colleagues, it's unbelievable, you couldn't start to think about how you'd cope with it, how you'd deal with it. It'd be frightening to think about it."
Walsh also paid tribute to the strength shown by JT's widow Caroline and the children.
"She must be an Iron Lady," he said.