A poignant farewell to a lady with an 'infectious enthusiasm for life'
On a gloriously crisp and sunny late-November Tipperary morning, hundreds of mourners gathered in the Church of St Joseph The Worker at Moyglass for the funeral service of Maria O'Grady, wife of trainer Edward O'Grady.
The 54-year-old mother of two, an accomplished horsewoman, died last Saturday from injuries incurred in a fall while hunting with the Tipperary Foxhounds.
Members of the Hunt and of the local Pony Club formed a guard of honour as the coffin was carried into the church before a deeply poignant service, laced with flashes of humour in keeping with memories of a vibrant, energetic and fun-loving personality.
The couple's two young daughters Mimi and Rosie Mae showed remarkable bravery and composure in reading beautifully at the service.
In a moving eulogy, Maria's longtime friend David Williams spoke of "her infectious enthusiasm for life".
He said: "She put joy into all social occasions. Maria and Edward have always been great fun and wonderful hosts. She relished the social side of Edwars working life, which included a party or two."
Williams told mourners how the couple had met when Edward retrieved a hat of Maria's that had got caught in the bough of a tree out hunting. They married 18 years ago, and Edward relayed that he was sporting the very suit that he wore on the day they were wed.
"I would like to thank Maria for 18 glorious years, the happiest of my life,” he said.
"Goodbye my darling, thank-you for everything."
The funeral was attended by many prominent personalities from the racing world including trainers Mouse Morris, Arthur Moore, Andrew McNamara, Fozzy Stack and Tom Taaffe, and former trainers Harry de Bromhead and Donald Swan.
Other well-known faces among a congregation that spilled out beyond the confines of the church included Barry Geraghty, Charlie Swan, Kieran and Anne-Marie McManus, Goffs auctioneer Nick Nugent, equine artist Peter Curling, Christy Grassick of Coolmore and former Republic of Ireland football star Niall Quinn.