Hundreds gather for final farewell to tragic minister
GRIEF: President and Taoiseach among mourners at the funeral
Up to 1,000 people filled a country church and many more stood in the morning chill outside as the funeral Mass of Junior Agriculture Minister Shane McEntee got underway today.
President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny were among those in attendance at St John the Baptist Church in Nobber, Co Meath, as his family bade a final, tearful farewell to the 56-year-old father-of-four.
Chief mourners at the funeral were his wife Kathleen, children Aoife, Vincent, Helen, and Sally, his mother Madge, his brothers and his sister. He was a loving grandfather to Eoin and Cian.
The church was nearly full long before the Requiem began at 11am. A framed photograph of the popular politician rested on his coffin during the Mass.
A large number of friends and colleagues from the world of politics, farming and the GAA were joined by local people in the church and along the route to the local cemetery.
Volunteers and gardai directed traffic, and cars were parked on all approach roads to the town.
The Minister of State tragically took his own life last Friday. His removal service last night was told there is always light to illuminate the deepest darkness, no matter how bad things appear to be.
Parish priest Fr Seamus Houlihan told mourners last night: "Shane died on the shortest day of the year. The darkness had almost overcome the world, and God knows because he didn't know and neither did the rest of us what darkness or what issues were working inside him.
"All we can say is when Jesus said 'I am the light of the world', what he was doing was saying no matter how hard things are, no matter how bad things become, we must find (light) in the darkness."
The priest declared "every one of us feels the darkness" but we should never let it better us.
"Christ is always there with the light of his love," he said.
"We can only hope and pray that now Shane will be able to wrap his arms around each one he loves so much and says to each one of them: 'I haven't left you, I'm still with you, I'm still the light of your life.
"'You may not see me but you'll know I'm there because I love you too much to ever leave you while you are here.'"