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Large crowds turn out to pay tribute to Tunisia victims

NewsBy Shuki Byrne
The remains of Larry Hayes are carried from the church in Athlone today
The remains of Larry Hayes are carried from the church in Athlone today
Hundreds of mourners pay their respects to the couple (Steve Humphreys, Irish Independent)
Hundreds of mourners pay their respects to the couple (Steve Humphreys, Irish Independent)

Hundreds of people have turned out to pay tribute to two people callously murdered in the Tunisian terrorist attack last week.

The remains of Larry and Martina Hayes were brought from the funeral home at the Strand in Athlone to the Church of Saints Peter and Paul yesterday evening. 

A crowd of over 2,000 people turned out to pay their final respects to the couple who were tragically killed in the Tunisia terror attack which claimed 38 lives.

The married couple were this morning laid to rest at Coosan Cemetery following the service at Church of Saints Peter and Paul. 

Hundreds of mourners paid tribute to couple, who were married for 32 years and described as "soulmates". 

"They shared a common interest in gardening. They were very proud of their strawberries and flowersm," Father Liam Devine said

"Martina’s home was her castle. She was a brilliant housekeeper. You would be hard pressed to find a speck of dust in the house. 

"Efforts to find fingerprints in the house proved futile, such was the pristine state of everything. The finger prints were found in their car that was in the airport awaiting their return."

Against this depiction of an everyday life in Ireland, Fr Devine said the deaths of the devoted couple had brought the incomprehensible horror of international terror to their doorsteps.

"There is nothing - no human experience of grief and loss - that could possibly prepare a family or a community for the devastating news that filtered through to Athlone last Saturday night and Sunday morning," he said.

"The violent deaths of Larry and Martina Hayes, while nearing the end of their holiday in Tunisia, has left the entire community in Athlone shocked, stunned and devastated.

"It is unprecedented. Unreal. It is almost impossible to come to terms with it."

In a broadside at the "misguided Isis terrorist fanatics" behind the attack, he said they had previously only invaded our living rooms in a sanitised, sterilised way.

"We never thought it would trouble us here in Ireland, so far away," he added.

"Today it invades our town in two coffins.

"The appalling massacre of Larry and Martina Hayes and 36 others at the hands of a crazed, brain-washed fanatic on a beach in Sousse has stunned into disbelief the entire nation. The violence is now at our own door."

The priest said God's tears mingle with Irish, Tunisian, British, German and Belgian tears in the wake of the atrocity.

Dublin's Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe represented the Irish Government at the service.

Images courtesy of Steve Humphreys, Irish Independent