Heartbreak as 'kind and gentle' Lisa is laid to rest
It was a day they prayed would never come, but yesterday a grieving community said a final, moving farewell to Lisa McGowan.
The 44-year-old was buried amid emotional scenes five days after a massive search operation ended in tragedy and heartache.
Lisa had vanished from her Co Tyrone home on July 8. Her body was discovered in the Drumquin area on Sunday evening.
It is understood she had taken her own life.
Yesterday hundreds of mourners packed Christ Church in Strabane to pay their final respects.
They heard Lisa described as a woman full of love and integrity who had a smile which could light up any room.
Joining friends and family members at the service were volunteers who took part in search operations following Lisa's disappearance.
All had desperately hoped and prayed their efforts would have had a happier outcome.
Also present were staff from Dublin City University where Lisa's husband, Paddy, is a lecturer, and clergy from various denominations.
Supported by relatives, Mr McGowan fought back tears as he accompanied his wife's coffin into the church.
A family friend named Martin, who had been best man at Paddy and Lisa's wedding, recalled memories of a gentle and loving woman.
"She could light up a room just with her smile," he told mourners.
He described Lisa's warmth, explaining how she could make someone feel like an old friend, even if they had met for the first time.
"She always had a wonderful sense of humour, she was kind and gentle," he continued.
Referring to the dozens of volunteers who took part in the searches, he said Lisa always managed to bring out the best in people.
"There is a sense of integrity, a gentleness which will live on," Martin said.
He added that Lisa had died in a moment that no-one yet understands, but which had tragic consequences.
"She wouldn't have wished to hurt anybody, least of all Paddy or her family," he added.
During the service Amazing Grace, one of Lisa's favourite hymns, was sung. A friend also read out a special poem.
In his address, Reverend Mark Lennox said Lisa was "a very special person".
"Today is a very difficult day, it is a very sad day," he said. "Many of us will have questions on our minds that we would like to find answers to."
Addressing relatives, he added: "Paddy, I know that these last couple of weeks have been very painful for you.
"Norman and Jane (Lisa's parents), one can only begin to imagine the pain that you must be feeling as parents."
Rev Lennox said the family was in the thoughts and prayers of the entire community.
He revealed that messages of support and condolence have arrived from across the world, including Australia, Canada and the United States.
"There is no doubt from listening to you chat over the last couple of weeks that Lisa was a very special person," he continued.
The minister recalled Paddy telling him Lisa was "his angel, his strength, the most beautiful person that anyone could know".
"I know that you all love her so much. That love doesn't end today – that love continues," he added.
In a statement posted online earlier this week, Mr McGowan described his wife as "the most beautiful person" he had ever known.
"She was the most supportive wife any man could ever have wanted," he said.
"She brought so much happiness to everyone who ever had the pleasure of meeting and knowing her. She never had a bad word to say about anyone. She was a quiet but humorous soul. She brought life to me."
Following the service, Lisa was buried at the Urney Cemetery in Strabane.