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JT McNamara's wife pays emotional tribute at his funeral

By Nicola Anderson

Published 29/07/2016

Coffins arrives at the funeral of amateur jockey John Thomas McNamara at St Michael's Church, Manister Croom, Co Limerick. PA
Coffins arrives at the funeral of amateur jockey John Thomas McNamara at St Michael's Church, Manister Croom, Co Limerick. PA
Jockey Ruby Walsh speaks to the media before the funeral of jockey JT McNamara in County Limerick, Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 29, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL JTMcNamara. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Crowds outside St Michael's Church in County Limerick, for the funeral of jockey JT McNamara. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 29, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL JTMcNamara. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Jockey Davy Russell during the funeral of jockey JT McNamara in County Limerick, Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 29, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL JTMcNamara. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Jockeys form a guard of honor during the funeral of jockey JT McNamara in County Limerick, Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 29, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL JTMcNamara. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Tom Taaffe leaving the funeral of jockey JT McNamara in County Limerick, Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 29, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL JTMcNamara. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Nina Carberry leaving the funeral of jockey JT McNamara in County Limerick, Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 29, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL JTMcNamara. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A riding helmet and whip are carried during the funeral of jockey JT McNamara in County Limerick, Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 29, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL JTMcNamara. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Former Jockey Robbie McNamara attends the funeral of jockey JT McNamara in County Limerick, Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 29, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL JTMcNamara. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Jockey Robbie Power during the funeral of jockey JT McNamara in County Limerick, Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 29, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL JTMcNamara. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Ted Walsh leaving the funeral of jockey JT McNamara in County Limerick, Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 29, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL JTMcNamara. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
TD Michael Lowry during the funeral of jockey JT McNamara in County Limerick, Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 29, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL JTMcNamara. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
AP McCoy leaving the funeral of jockey JT McNamara in County Limerick, Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 29, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL JTMcNamara. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Trainer Enda Bolger leaving the funeral of jockey JT McNamara in County Limerick, Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 29, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL JTMcNamara. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
JP McManus leaving the funeral of jockey JT McNamara in County Limerick, Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 29, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL JTMcNamara. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The coffins arrives at the funeral of amateur jockey John Thomas McNamara at St Michael's Church, Manister Croom, Co Limerick. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 29, 2016. Known as JT to family, friends and fans, the top rider, from Croom, Co Limerick, was paralysed from the neck down after a fall at the Cheltenham Festival in 2013. It is understood JT suffered complications in recent days from his paralysis and spent time in hospital before returning home to Springfield Stables in Croom, where he died. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The coffins arrives at the funeral of amateur jockey John Thomas McNamara at St Michael's Church, Manister Croom, Co Limerick. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 29, 2016. Known as JT to family, friends and fans, the top rider, from Croom, Co Limerick, was paralysed from the neck down after a fall at the Cheltenham Festival in 2013. It is understood JT suffered complications in recent days from his paralysis and spent time in hospital before returning home to Springfield Stables in Croom, where he died. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The coffins arrives at the funeral of amateur jockey John Thomas McNamara at St Michael's Church, Manister Croom, Co Limerick. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 29, 2016. Known as JT to family, friends and fans, the top rider, from Croom, Co Limerick, was paralysed from the neck down after a fall at the Cheltenham Festival in 2013. It is understood JT suffered complications in recent days from his paralysis and spent time in hospital before returning home to Springfield Stables in Croom, where he died. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A guard of honour waits for the coffin to arrive at the funeral of amateur jockey John Thomas McNamara at St Michael's Church, Manister Croom, Co Limerick. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 29, 2016. Known as JT to family, friends and fans, the top rider, from Croom, Co Limerick, was paralysed from the neck down after a fall at the Cheltenham Festival in 2013. It is understood JT suffered complications in recent days from his paralysis and spent time in hospital before returning home to Springfield Stables in Croom, where he died. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 29th July 2016 Funeral of Lorraine Clyde at St Comgall's Church in Antrim. The 56-year-old Lorraine Clyde died along with 35-year-old Michelle McStravick in a car crash near Randalstown on Monday. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 29th July 2016 Funeral of Lorraine Clyde at St Comgall's Church in Antrim. The 56-year-old Lorraine Clyde died along with 35-year-old Michelle McStravick in a car crash near Randalstown on Monday. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 29th July 2016 Funeral of Lorraine Clyde at St Comgall's Church in Antrim. The 56-year-old Lorraine Clyde died along with 35-year-old Michelle McStravick in a car crash near Randalstown on Monday. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 29th July 2016 Funeral of Lorraine Clyde at St Comgall's Church in Antrim. The 56-year-old Lorraine Clyde died along with 35-year-old Michelle McStravick in a car crash near Randalstown on Monday. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye

The devastated wife of jockey JT McNamara has paid an emotional tribute to her husband’s courage, saying he had continued to set himself goals “all the time” and that getting back home and out to his yard had been a major one he had achieved.

Caroline McNamara received a standing ovation today  at the funeral in Manister, Co Limerick after her words.

She told mourners that though they had faced “many, many difficult days” since the tragic accident in Chelteham three years ago, the intervening time had allowed John to spend more time with their three children, Dylan, Olivia and Harry and granted time for the children to build “previous memories of their dad.”

And she thanked the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund, the Turf Club and the Injured Jockeys Fund UK, saying that without their assistance, “JT’s return would not have been possible.”

Tears slid down the cheeks of mourners as little Harry said a prayer of the faithful, thanking God for “my dad” and saying; “We ask the angels to take good care of you. We love you dad.”

President Michael D Higgins was represented by his ADC, Commandant Michael Kieran while Taoiseach Enda Kenny was represented by ADC, Kieran Carey.

Many senior figures  from the world of racing filled the little church at Manister, where JT had been a faithful mass-goer.

They included JP McManus, wife Noreen and sons John and Kieran.

Mr McManus later paid tribute to TJ McNamara , saying: “His death is not in vain.”

The lives and welfare of many jockeys will be much improved because of what had happened, he said.

Sad loss: JT McNamara passed away at his Limerick home on Monday night
Sad loss: JT McNamara passed away at his Limerick home on Monday night

Trainers Ted Walsh senior, Mouse Morris, Tom Taaffe, Willie Mullins, Enda Bulger and  Gordon Elliot were amongst those present.

 Around 30 jockeys formed a guard of honour as the remains left the church for burial. Amongst those who attended were  Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty, Nina Carberry,  AP McCoy, Davy Russell, Robbie Power – sporting cuts on his forehead from the Galway Festival yesterday, John Joe O’Neill, Robbie McNamara and former jockey Mick Kinane.

Chief celebrant of the funeral, Canon Gary Bluett paid tribute to JT in the words of Shakespeare, saying: “Goodnight sweet prince, and may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

“That was Hamlet -  Prince of Denmark, John - Prince of Manister. May he rest in peace,” he said.

Afterwards, Ruby Walsh spoke of JT’s courage and fortitude in the face of such hardship.

"Today is a very sad day but three years ago in Cheltenham was a very sad day,” he recalled.

"His mental strength and his will power for the last three years have been incredible. So too have Caroline's and all his family.

"I guess to be dealt the cards he was dealt on that day in Cheltenham are the worst. They are any jockeys' worst nightmare come true.

"I guess wherever he is now at least he's not suffering anymore.

"We spoke as colleagues, it's unbelievable, you couldn't start to think about how you'd cope with it, how you'd deal with it. It'd be frightening to think about it."

Walsh also paid tribute to the strength shown by JT's widow Caroline and the children.

"She must be an Iron Lady," he said.

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