Belfast Telegraph

Widow of disappeared victim was a remarkable woman, funeral of Kathleen Armstrong is told

Popular: Kathleen Armstrong
Popular: Kathleen Armstrong

By Christopher Leebody

A widow whose husband was murdered and secretly buried by republicans was an "extraordinarily determined woman", the priest at her funeral said on Sunday.

Kathleen Armstrong (90) passed away on Friday.

Her husband Charlie was last seen on his way to Mass in Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, in 1981.

His remains were finally found in July 2010 in a bog in Co Monaghan.

Mrs Armstrong was laid to rest after a service at St Patrick's Church, Crossmaglen.

In his address, Fr Kevin Cullen praised the strength of character and faith that she carried throughout her life as the widow of Mr Armstrong, one of Northern Ireland's so-called Disappeared.

Also present at the service were members of Mrs Armstrong's large family, the Crossmaglen community and victims' campaigners.

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Speaking after the funeral, Fr Cullen explained that despite the sadness of her passing, there was a "lovely atmosphere" during the service.

He said: "It was very reverential, very peaceful and very hopeful. She was a powerful woman. She never held any bitterness over the whole thing regarding her husband Charlie. She was just an exceptionally spiritual woman.

She lived her life in hope and held no bitterness, which in itself is extraordinary considering her husband was missing for almost 30 years. Fr Cullen

"There was a great crowd present today. She will be remembered by the whole community here. A meal took place at the community centre afterwards celebrating her life.

"A singer also wrote and composed a song about her life and about Charlie's disappearance which was played. It was beautiful and very emotional.

"She loved people coming to her home and meeting people. She was a great friendly person who loved to have a chat.

"Everybody felt better for having been to her house. She always fed everyone and made sure they were looked after when they came to see her."

While the loss of her husband took a heavy toll on Mrs Armstrong, Fr Cullen explained that she leaned on her strong faith to get through the dark days. He added: "She was remarkable in the fact she lived to 90. She lived about 30 years after that terrible experience.

"She must have been an extraordinarily determined and strong woman.

"She was a marvellous character, she was a woman of great faith.

"She used her faith to support her and never held any spite against the people that took her husband. That was what kept her going all these years after Charlie's disappearance.

"She always practised her faith and she was obviously a woman that believed very deeply."

Following the service she was buried in the adjoining cemetery.

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