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sad farewell Tragic runner who died in Comeragh Mountains ‘brought joy and light to so many people’, funeral told

Gillian Ryan (37) “loved being out of doors running”


Gillian Ryan

Gillian Ryan

Gillian Ryan

The funeral of a mother-of-two who died while out for a run in the Comeragh Mountains has heard how she was a “special” person who “brought joy and light to so many people”.

Gillian Ryan (37), from Ashill, Horse and Jockey, Thurles, Co Tipperary, went missing last Sunday close to Coumshingaun Loop trail. Her remains were found in a steep gully above the lake by rescue teams on Monday.

The alarm was raised when she did not make contact with her husband at 2pm and gardaí were called.

The South Eastern Mountain Rescue Association (SEMRA) lead the multi-agency search along with Search And Rescue Dog Association Ireland (SADRA), Rescue 117 of the Irish Coast Guard along with the Kerry Mountain Rescue, Dublin and Wicklow search teams and the Glen of Imaal mountain rescuers and Civil Defence volunteers.

Her funeral Mass took place at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Thurles this morning with her oak coffin adorned with lilies and yellow and pink roses as well as a black and white photograph of the young mother.

Family members carried symbols of her life to the altar. Her daughter Amelia Rose brought a family photograph of them in the countryside while her son Conor presented the runners she used for athletics which, mourners heard, “was at the heart of her life”.

“Gillian loved being out of doors running.” the congregation was told.

A scissors was also brought to remind mourners of her working life as a hairdresser and the many friends she made during her career.

Mourners heard: “That no-one expected to be here a week ago and so it’s the tragic death of Gillian that brings us all together today. It’s a great loss and express our sincere sympathy to her husband Conor, daughter Amelia Rose, Conor Jamie, mother Margaret, father Tommy, sister Theresa, brothers Thomas and Colm.

“You may be seeing clouds and dark clouds these days instead of sunshine but her spirit lives on. We celebrate her life - she was a special person. Gillian loved this place, and would drop in to light a candle. She had strong faith. A life lived in a loving, caring way. Too short a life. Length of years is not what’s important.

“Gillian crowded so much into her short life. Her family was always at the centre of her life. Conor was truly blessed to have Gillian as a soul mate, to have so many shared interests and their children together.

“She brought joy and light to so many people. She was kind, friendly, generous, and would lift your spirits with her friendly smile. We thank her for all the goodness she did. Throughout her working life as a hairdresser her clients became her friends."

Mourners were also told: ”She loved running with Thurles Crokes, road running, cross country with the national awards she won.

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"Gillian was happy out in the fresh air, enjoying the countryside.

"She adored her family, looking after then, with all her cooking - always happy and cheerful and breaking into song. Hundreds of condolences have been received by the family. Gillian was so special in so many lives.

“Her family are so grateful who were involved in the search for Gillian, SEMRA, other search and rescue teams, gardaí and volunteers. Sadly the return was not what was expected at the start but her family are so grateful that she was brought home but her soul will live on and her light will continue to inspire everyone.”

Both of the couple’s children read a prayer for their mother. Numerous guards of honour lined the route on her final journey including by Thurles Crokes, her former schools, gardaí and SEMRA.

Her burial took place in St Peter’s cemetery, Moycarkey, Co Tipperary.

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