Thousands of mourners have gathered in Co Kerry to pay their respects to Miriam Burns, who was found dead in unexplained circumstances at her home in Ardshanavoolu, Killarney, last Monday.
A murder investigation has commenced following the death of the 75-year-old, a mother of four who was remembered as a glamorous woman but also a “force of nature” by her daughter Sharon during the memorial service at St Mary’s Cathedral in the town.
Sharon said her mother was known locally as the “beautiful smiling lady on the bike” but was also a “lioness”.
“She could give you what’s for if the situation required it,” she said. “Most importantly she was brimful of compassion and love a woman of substance. She gave her children everything in life to be happy and strong. The way Mam loved is an example to us all. She was so human that the words Miriam Burns could be the future definition of what humanity means.”
The service started an hour later than scheduled due to the need to accommodate the large crowds who lined up to console the family of the deceased.
Fr Kieran O’Brien, the chief celebrant at the prayer service, said Ms Burns’s light “shone brightly” in Killarney.
“[She was] the lady on the bike. Ardshanavoolu might be five minutes from town, but it took her so long to return back. Miriam was never in a rush. Willing to chat, willing to meet people. A smile, a wave as she went about her business,” he said.
“ ‘You are the light of the world’, ‘you are the salt of the earth’ are words we use in life to compliment each other. For those of us who knew Miriam, we can say it sums her up quite well.
“For those who didn’t know her, it’s like they say, a picture speaks a thousand words. Over the last few days Miriam’s pictures have shown someone who is very pleasant, always smiling, someone looking her best, happy out in life. That is how she is remembered in this town and by her family.”
Fr O’Brien said Ms Burns was a carer who visited the housebound and brightened up many people’s lives through her presence, actions and words.
“During this past week that light has died,” he said. “We are powerless, we are in the dark and in that situation we try to feel our way around. We search for the light to come back on but it’s not happening. The only flicker of light at the moment are her loyal friends, her lifelong neighbours who have all rallied around.
“We thank her for the light that she beamed into so many lives. She was probably unaware of what she achieved and what she meant to people in this town. I have no doubt her memory will live on.”
Fr O’Brien said that the show of solidarity in the community since Ms Burns’s death had been a source of comfort to her grieving family, whose neighbours and friends would continue to rally around in the months to come
Gardaí believe Ms Burns was fatally assaulted in her home some time between Monday, August 15th, and the previous Friday. The inquiry into her death continues. A man in his 50s was released without charge having been arrested in connection with her death last week. A file will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.