There was deep sadness and grief in the overflowing Church of St Bridget in Ballintra this morning as Diane Gallagher was laid to rest surrounded by her family and over 200 grieving colleagues.
The popular assistant manager at the Abbey Hotel was carried to her final resting place in the adjoining cemetery. Her tearful team formed a dignified guard of honour all along the route, dressed immaculately in their hotel uniforms.
“Today is a day of great sadness, a day when many are lost for words. It is with a heavy heart that I welcome Diane here, a person so full of life just taken from us so suddenly,” Fr Cathal O’Fearraigh said.
“Diane herself knew that this life was only a preparation for the next- she was a woman of great faith.”
Fr O’Fearraigh then explained the significance of the gifts that were there to remind us all of Diane: a little figure of a robin that meant so much to her, a bunch of posies which she brought to her mother in this cemetery every week without fail, her name tag from the Abbey Hotel where she spent 23 years of her life, and her photograph, which reminds each and every one of us of the kindness that exuded from her smile.
Fr O Fearraigh reminded the packed congregation just how fragile life can be.
“It is amazing how a week can just change things utterly. Last Thursday Diane was at her work in the Abbey Hotel smiling and laughing, simply in the great form and looking great.
“Suddenly everything changed with Diane taking ill and being rushed to Beaumont hospital without any warning. There was no time for any goodbyes - just time for prayers.
“A dark cloud enveloped the towns of Donegal, Laghey, Ballintra, and Ballyshannon as Diane succumbed to her illness on Saturday evening.
“A shining light had just gone out and many were left behind in darkness.
“Diane was a giver - she put everybody else first, she was always thinking of others, she was a real people’s person and a great lover of her family and a great friend to her daughter Kerrie.”
Dwelling on the words of St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, Fr O’Fearraigh said.
“Diane gave and never counted the cost, she fought and never heeded the wounds - she gave freely never looking for any rewards.”
Diane was predeceased by her mother Anne, survived by her father John, her daughter Kerrie, her sister Tara and brother John and a large extended family and a wide circle of friends.