Belfast Telegraph

From groom to widower within a week: anguish as Tony lays wife to rest

Just a few days ago Tony Cahalin was enjoying the happiest day of his life as he married Caroline Farren at Londonderry’s Guildhall.

But yesterday he had to fight back his grief as he buried his wife following one of the cruellest twists of fate.

Grey skies hung over the Co Donegal town of Carndonagh yesterday as hundreds of mourners turned out to say a final farewell to Caroline.

Forty-year-old Caroline had only been married for five days when she slipped and fell from the Tul na Ri bridge in the town on Sunday last while out with friends — eventually losing her fight for life on Tuesday morning. Just last Thursday Caroline had celebrated her 40th birthday while also tying the knot in Guildhall with husband Tony.

Her husband was supported at yesterday’s funeral by family and friends including Caroline’s father Danny, mother Patricia Farren and only sister Jacqueline as they tried to come to term’s with Caroline’s sudden death.

There was silence in the normally busy market town as the funeral cortege snaked its way from the family home in Cashelcraw to the Sacred Heart Church in the centre of Carndonagh. A red and white floral arrangement spelled out the words ‘Big Sis’, a tribute from Caroline’s sister Jacqui (37), while another with the word ‘Wife’ was from her loving husband Tony.

A simple bouquet with a ribbon with the word ‘Daughter’ on it was placed on the coffin by Caroline’s parents Patricia and Danny.

People wept openly in the church as Fr Con McLaughlin spoke about how people must look to their faith at such a time of immeasurable grief.

He also spoke about how he must now question the statistic that people are living longer these days as he referred also to the recent horrific road tragedy outside Clonmany in which eight men were killed.

“I hear how life expectancy has increased so much. But I can understand how people are beginning to doubt that statistic as we gather here today.

“Caroline had so much to live for and so had Tony — her new husband. But all that has been taken from them.

“Indeed, the list (of young people dying) lengthens every day. All we hear is another cross on the shoulders of another family and another burden.

“When we are bereaved, the pain is all the greater and our faith is tested. It takes time and that is the response of our faith — being able to accept what has happened.

“When it happens to someone so relatively young like Caroline, it is so much more hurtful. But we must try and make our way through it,” he said.

Among the mourners were many of Caroline’s friends and relations from Scotland where she had lived for a number of years before returning to settle again in her native Donegal.

Among the songs played during the moving ceremony was Westlife’s ‘You Raise Me Up’ and an accordion instrumental ‘Gentle Mother’. A special mention was also made of Caroline’s little niece Narissa who Fr McLaughlin said that she had doted on.

The family also asked Fr McLaughlin to make a special mention of thanks to all the emergency services and the staff at Letterkenny General Hospital who had tried so desperately to save Caroline’s life.

“We pray for these people and the work they do and all they tried to do to save Caroline,” he said.

After the funeral Mass Caroline’s body was removed for burial to the adjoining cemetery.

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