There was a veil of sorrow and a sombre silence in St Agatha's Church, Clar yesterday morning when the remains of Kathleen Pryal (nee Harvey) were taken the short distance from her home on her final journey.
Fr Willie Peoples, assisted by Fr Seamus Dagens, concelebrated the funeral Mass with the church unable to cater for the large congregation which assembled to pay their final tribute.
The cortege from the house to the church was escorted by a guard of honour of her dancing friends who had accompanied her last weekend to a weekend away in Ennis, Co Clare, an annual event for the group.
It was on returning home from that joyful weekend, accompanied by her friends, her husband Martin and sister, Patricia, that Kathleen was to be involved in a trafic accident which took her life, just yards from her own home.
There were further guards of honour from other dancing colleagues and from the Irish Army at the church at Clar.
The shock and sadness at the sudden death of Kathleen was reflected in the large crowd at the funeral and also at the wake on Monday and Tuesday at the family home.
Kathleen was universally liked and it was easy to know why. She was quiet and unassuming yet had great nature and was always enquiring about others. She had survived a serious health scare a number of years ago and was back to full fitness and her great love of all kinds of dancing, ceili, sets and country and Irish.
Born in July 1950 in Drumboarty, she went to National School in Drimnaherk and later in the Vocational School in Donegal Town.
She took up employment in Magees Factory in the cutting room when she was 16 and many of her former workmates in Magees recalled her great character and wit which made the workplace a very happy place.
The family moved from Drumboarty to Clar in 1969 but she never lost her Drimarone roots and she kept in touch with all her friends throughout her life.
Her niece Deirdre gave a lovely eulogy at the end of the funeral Mass which outlined the love in which she was held by the extended family.
She worked in Magees for almost 20 years before becoming a carer for her late mother, Rosabelle. It was here that her great caring nature shone through; she was a second mother for all the family, and this continued when her nieces and nephews came along; she was the one who kept the birthday dates, organised the family occasions and gatherings.
The home house became the starting point and finishing point for family outings. Indeed, Fr Peoples commented that when he was in Clar, Kathleen's house was always the last house on his parish visits and there was always a cup of tea.
Kathleen met her husband, Martin, at a social dance on St Patrick's Day in 1980 in Finner Camp which she attended with her sister, Patricia, and they were married in 1982 in St Agatha's Church, Clar.
Kathleen was a lifelong Pioneer and she received her gold pin just last year. Her two great passions were knitting and dancing, but she was also a master of the one liners.
When people were leaving the house, she never said goodbye, she always said, 'Cheerio'.
"As we are about to take leave of Kathleen this morning, we too will not say goodbye, but cheerio for now. Martin knows that he will meet her again in that big ballroom in the sky, where no doubt there will be a few sets taking place," said Deirdre in the eulogy.
After the funeral Mass, Kathleen was laid to rest in the adjoining graveyard.
Predeceased by parents Paddy and Rosabelle and by brother, Jimmy, Kathleen is survived by her husband Martin; sister Patricia; brothers Eamon and Colm; brother-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews and a wide circle of friends and relatives.