“It has been a source of strength and consolation [to Miriam’s family] for the last three hours to see people – friends, neighbours, colleagues, parishioners – from all over Kerry come to the church.”
Ms Burns’s body was found at her home in Ardshanavooly last Monday, and a Garda investigation into the 75-year-old’s death has since been upgraded to a murder inquiry.
Fr Kieran O’Brien led a prayer service St Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney.
It has been been due to begin at 4pm but was delayed due to the number of mourners who wanted to attend - a queue stretching from the cathedral, out through its gates and along the road at Cathedral Place.
Mourners expressed their condolences to the Burns family at the top of the aisle.
They did so from shortly after 2pm, and the queue eventually petered out a few minutes before the service could begin at 4.55pm.
Fr O’Brien commented on the remarkable togetherness visible among all who came to say goodbye to Ms Burns and sympathise with those who loved her most.
“It’s wonderful to see so many people with us in the cathedral this afternoon,” he said.
“It has been a source of strength and consolation [to Miriam’s family] for the last three hours to see people – friends, neighbours, colleagues, parishioners – from all over Kerry come to the church.
“The silence that has hung over the town over the past week has been a statement in itself,” Fr O’Brien added.
Hundreds attended the service and Fr O’Brien commented that the crowd included many people from beyond Killarney’s town limits and the county bounds.
A picture of a smiling Ms Burns has circulated widely in the media since news of her death broke, and Fr O’Brien said this image “said a thousand words”, typical as it was of a happy person who always maintained a positive attitude, no matter what challenges life presented to her.
“Miriam’s light shone brightly in this town,” he said.
“The lady on the bike. Her daily trips to town. Ardshan [Ardshanavooly] is only five minutes from the town, but it took her so long to return back home. Miriam was never in a rush. Willing to chat, willing to meet people.
“They [her family] want this to be a celebration of her life…no matter what was going on in her life, she had a great and positive attitude.”
He described Miriam as a family person who always showed “unconditional love” for her four children.
“She was probably unaware of what she achieved and what she meant to people in this town.
"There is no doubt her memory will live on. She is loved.”
Before her coffin was carried away and Miriam brought to a private cremation ceremony, daughter Sharon spoke to the congregation of her mother, “a woman of substance, full of compassion and love”.
She commented on her strength of character, describing her as a “powerful” woman, and she thanked everyone who has supported the Burns family during the hardest week of their lives.
“We thank Killarney, Ardshan, everyone in Ireland who has honoured her,” she said.
Miriam’s wicker coffin was carried down the aisle and to an awaiting hearse as Mary Culloty O’Sullivan sang ‘Think of Me’.
“The way mom walked – or, indeed, cycled – through life was an example to us all,” Sharon added near the conclusion of her eulogy.