THE brother of a woman found dead in tragic circumstances in Mayo asked the congregation at her funeral service to pray for her family.
David French told mourners that mother of three Valerie French-Kilroy (41) was “an immensely caring and loving person” who had devoted her life as an occupational therapist to helping others.
“Valerie was put here to help us,” he said.
“Maybe she appreciated more than the rest of us how precious time together with people we love really is. Please pray for the person responsible for her death,” he said.
The mother of three young sons was found dead at her Mayo home last Friday.
A post mortem examination indicated she had met a violent death.
Her husband, James Kilroy, was charged last Sunday before Castlebar District Court with the murder of his wife at Kilbree Lower, Islandeady, Mayo on June 14.
Hundreds attended Mrs French-Kilroy’s funeral service at St Fachtna’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Rosscarbery, west Cork – not far from where she was brought up in Leap.
Mrs French-Kilroy is survived by her three sons Oscar, Axel and Zak, her husband, James, her mother Valerie, brother David, sisters Suzette, Hilary and Veronica, her parents-in-law Richard & Jay, sisters-in-law Emma and Natalie as well as her extended family.
A number of her HSE colleagues travelled to west Cork from Mayo.
The service was led by the Dean of Ross Rev Christopher Peters and the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross Dr Paul Colton.
Dean Peters had celebrated Valerie’s wedding ceremony in St Fachtna’s in 2008. David French paid an emotional tribute to his sister – and asked everyone to remember that her “three young sons are almost unaware of the catastrophe that has unfolded around them.”
“We are here to celebrate Valerie’s wonderful life not to remember the horrific circumstances of her death. The name Valerie means strong and valiant,” he said.
“As you all know Valerie was an immensely caring and loving person. It was her calling both at home and at work throughout her life. Valerie’s profession was to be an occupational therapist.”
Mr French quoted lines written by his sister a decade ago where she explained that her job involved working with mental health community services in north Mayo.
“Along with distressing symptoms, psychiatric illnesses can turn the lives of individuals and their families into disarray. My role is to work with people to enable them to return to doing everyday activities, so they can take control of their world and regain a meaningful life for themselves,” she wrote.
Mr French said his sister’s career came as a surprise to them when, as a child, they judged her as “a happy go lucky little faerie who entertained us with her antics and activities.”
But he said his sister, throughout her life and career, never lost her warm laugh, the sense of fun she inherited from her adored father and her compassion for others.
“She had an immense capacity for work and a deep connection with people across the community wherever she was. Valerie could also be very serious but only when necessary,” he said.
His sister adored music, festivals, art, craft, storytelling, nature, gardening but above all her family and children.
Mr French quoted lines from William Butler Yeats about life, love and time.
He asked mourners to remember his sister’s three young sons.
“Above all else please pray for the future of Valerie’s three sons,” he said.
“Please pray that they will grow up to be the men their mother wanted to see, with lives as full of laughter, love, joy, happiness and hope as hers was.”
Mr French concluded with a moving tribute to the Gardaí, Health Service Executive (HSE) and Tusla as well as all those who had supported his family over the past week.
“As a close family friend often says: We are only put here to help each other. Valerie was put here to help us,” he said.
Dean Peters said anyone who met Valerie remembered her by her ready smile and warm laughter.
“She was someone at ease in and with herself happy to be a bit different and to do things differently,” he said.
“It is the precious memories of her life which must always define our memories of Valerie and her marriage to James and not the tragic and awful event of this last week.”
A special statement had been issued by the family via the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne & Ross Dr Paul Colton thanking everyone for the immense outpouring of support the family had received since the tragedy last Friday.