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Tributes paid to a 'gentle woman' as funeral held of tragic road accident victim

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Tributes paid to a 'gentle woman' as funeral held of tragic road accident victim thumbnailThe late Margaret McLaughlin and her husband, Pat.

A STRABANE woman who died in a fatal road crash in the town last week was "a gentle woman" who placed her family at the centre of everything she did, mourners at her funeral have been told.

Leading the tribute to Margaret McLaughlin (69) at her funeral mass on Saturday morning was Melmount parish priest, Rev Michael Doherty. Mrs McLaughlin worked as the priest's housekeeper for over 27 years.

She had been on her way home from bingo in Doneyloop last Monday night when the family car was involved in a collision with a lorry at the junction between the Urney Road and Great Northern Link.

The mother-of-four was taken to hospital but died from her injuries. Her husband, Pat, was also treated for non life-threatening injuries.

Hundreds of mourners packed into St Mary's Church on Saturday morning for her funeral mass.

Officiating over the service, Fr Doherty said the area had been left "deeply saddened and stunned by the way this very, very gentle woman has died".

He also offered prayers for the emergency services, locals and passers-by who, he said, "did all they could to give help and comfort to Margaret and Pat."

"I know that all of us who are here today are feeling completely gutted at having to be here doing what we are doing because what has happened to Margaret isn't right. If we feel bitter and angry as well deeply grieved at the unfairness of it all, there's no one in heaven or on Earth who can blame us.

"Things aren't meant to be like this. Everything is meant to be different. There are just no easy words that we can say to explain the injustice of what happened to Margaret," he said.

An emotional Fr Doherty said the death of the highly-respected Bridge Street woman had left her family and friends devastated.

"Since the day of the accident, I don't think I have heard anything except very kind and very genuine words about Margaret. She was a good woman and that's what so many people have said this past week as we have all struggled to come to terms with the tragedy which brings us together in Melmount Church this Saturday morning.

"And, nobody needed to tell me that because I have been on the receiving end of her goodness for almost 27 years in the house at Ballycolman Avenue and then in the Parochial House.

"Not only me, but to different extents, the other priests who are with us here at this mass this morning. As clergy we give great support to each other at times of personal loss or parish tragedy.

"But these men are here today not primarily for my sake but to pay tribute to your mother, your wife Pat, to Margaret McLaughlin, to pray for her soul and to pray for those she has left behind.

"All of them have benefitted from the goodness that was Margaret McLaughlin over the years. She fed us, she welcomed us, she looked after us and she encouraged us. If that is how we have all felt about her, how many times do we need to multiply that to acknowledge the love that she brought to her family."

The priest told the service that despite the "sharpness of our pain", her family and friends gave thanks for her "good and happy life".

"It's a sad and cruel goodbye that we're having to say today. All we can be grateful for is who Margaret was and what she meant to everyone who loved her, liked her, enjoyed her and appreciated her.

"For the fact that her life was a good and happy life. That's what it was. Margaret enjoyed life, she enjoyed company, she enjoyed herself and Pat going dancing. She looked forward to so many things and enjoyed them when they happened," he added.

"Lord, we know nothing is going to be quite the same again, our hearts have been wounded by this grief and the scars that we now have will always be there. We wish to you and to all that's good and right that things were not like this.

"We are glad that we had the gift of Margaret's life, we are glad of her love and friendship. We are glad to have known her and we are glad that although cruelly her life has ended, our memories of her are always going to be good, warm and happy."

Following the funeral service, Mrs McLaughlin was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery.

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