'ireland's truest hero' | 

Vicky Phelan laid to rest in private funeral as tributes paid to ‘hero’

The mum-of-two passed away on Monday “in the presence of her loving family, after a long illness borne with great dignity”

Campaigner Vicky Phelan. Pic:Mark Condren

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

Vicky Phelan has been laid to rest privately in her local Limerick as family follow the wishes of the late CervicalCheck campaigner.

The mum-of-two passed away on Monday “in the presence of her loving family, after a long illness borne with great dignity”.

Her family have asked for “donations, in lieu of flowers” to Milford Care Centre, where the 48-year-old died earlier this week after a public battle with cervical cancer.

Tributes and condolences continue to pour in for the campaigner, who received an incorrect smear test result three years before her diagnosis.

She spent the remainder of her life campaigning for justice.

"The women of Ireland owe you their gratitude for your courage and resilience over the past number of years,” one Dublin woman said.

"Our hearts are broken for your family. You will always have a special place in all our hearts.”

"Our deepest sympathy to Vicky’s husband children and family,” another mourner wrote.

"Her strength and dignity throughout her battle have been an inspiration to the women of Ireland and we owe her our eternal gratitude. Thank you Vicky, rest easy now.”

Hundreds of words of thanks and sympathy have been paid to Ms Phelan, calling the Limerick woman an “inspiration” who is “Ireland’s truest hero”.

“So sorry to hear about the loss of a much loved mother, wife, daughter, sister and and friend,” one says.

Her young family is among those mourning the loss of the campaigner, along with her parents, siblings, parents-in-law, nephews, nieces, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law and other relatives, friends and neighbours.

Close friend Charlie Bird lead public tributes to Ms Phelan as the news of her death broke, saying his “hero is gone”.

“My heart is broken just hearing about the passing of Vicky Phelan. Over the past year she gave me great support to keep fighting my terminal illness.

“This whole country should be in mourning at the passing of this remarkable human being. My heart is broken. My hero is gone.”

President Michael D Higgins praised Ms Phelan’s “powerful inner strength and dignity” as well as her contribution to Irish society in an official statement.

“It is with the deepest sense of sadness that people across Ireland and beyond will have heard of the death of Vicky Phelan.

"All of us who had the privilege of meeting Vicky will have been struck by the powerful inner strength and dignity with which she not only faced her own illness, but with the sense of commitment to the public good and the rights of others with which she campaigned.

"Vicky, in all of this, made an enormous contribution to Irish society. Thanks to her tireless efforts, despite the terrible personal toll she herself had to carry, so many women’s lives have been protected, and will be protected in the future.

"She will be deeply missed, by all of those who were in awe of her courage, her resilience, offered not only to women but to all of us in Ireland."

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