Mourners from Athlone and Portadown united in grief yesterday (Thursday) afternoon as hundreds attended the service of thanksgiving at St Columba’s Parish Church for the life of Daryl Burke, the Portadown Piker whose body was recovered after 16 days in the depths of Lough Ree in County Westmeath.
The Rector, Canon Bill Adair, made special mention of the determined rescuers, the Garda Siochana and the Athlone community, many of whom made the 100-mile journey to Portadown to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Daryl’s wife Louise, and the extended family and friends of the 30-year-old whose body was finally recovered on Saturday. The community down south simply refused to abandon the search after “the worst tragedy Lough Ree has ever experienced”.
The congregation - packed to overflowing - thought not just of Daryl, and his three sons, wife Louise, and his parents and siblings. But their thoughts were also filled by the memory of Pikers colleague David Warnock, who was rescued on the fateful day three weeks ago, but died later in hospital. And there was relief that John Trimble - taken from the cold water 45 minutes before David - had pulled through.
Also among the mourners were father-and-son Clifford and Stuart Forbes, plus Philip Neill. The fellow Pikers had completed the group of six and were in another boat on the lake when the freak wave capsized the 15-foot vessel in which Daryl, David and John had set out, anticipating a weekend of fellowship and angling - tragically cut short on the unpredictable lough.
Yesterday afternoon’s cortege left Daryl’s home at Beechgrove - beside Edenderry Primary School - after one o’clock, for the 2pm service at St Columba’s. Residents of the Killicomaine area paid homage as the funeral procession made its way onto Princess Way, and there was genuine sorrow at the thought of the hard-working landscape gardener leaving his loving home for the last time - he was devoted to his three sons, William (7), Callum (4) and Brooklyn (2), and to wife Louise who is expecting their first daughter on May 10.
Canon Adair, in expressing his deepest sympathy to the family, said the Scriptures comforted the mourning in times of greatest need. The hymns ‘Abide With Me’ and ‘Will Your Anchor Hold in the Storms of Life?’ were sung before the coffin left the church for burial at Kernan Cemetery. It brought closure to a tragedy that shocked Ireland north and south and began exactly three weeks ago.
Arrangements were by Ian Milne Funeral Directors.