Tipperary trainer pays moving tribute to his wife following her death in a hunting accident

Anne O'Grady

Reporter:

Anne O'Grady

Mr. Edward O'Grady

Mr. O'Grady paid a moving tribute to his wife of 18 years

Hundreds of mourners gathered in the Church of St Joseph the Worker outside Moyglass yesterday to hear champion Irish horse trainer Edward O'Grady pay a moving tribute to his wife, Maria, who was killed in a fall while out hunting with Tipperary Foxhounds last Saturday.

Mr. O'Grady fought back tears as he paid tribute to his "feisty, courageous, generous, fiercely loyal and brilliant" wife, a mother of two and a former Irish TV producer.

Mourners were told by Fr Jimmy O'Donnell that the Ballymackey native "died doing what she loved on Saturday - in the sport she lived for."

Mr O'Grady (68), in an emotional eulogy to his wife, said the 18 happy years he had spent with her wasn't so much a successful marriage as one long, uninterrupted honeymoon.

"I would like to thank you (Maria) for the past 18 glorious years - the happiest of my life. "Goodbye, my darling, thank you for everything - the honeymoon is over."

The trainer had also asked for the funeral to hear the first song that he and Maria had ever danced to after their wedding.

Mr O'Grady, quoting a tribute from his wife's dear friend, the award-winning actress Dillie Keane, said her brilliance and love of life had enchanted everyone she ever met.

"I always thought you were a star, Maria, a true supernova but I think I might have gotten it wrong - we are going to remember you as a comet- a great, brilliant comet that lit up the sky," he said.

Family friend, David Williams, told mourners that Maria had met Edward when she got her hunting hat snagged in a low tree branch while she was out riding. "Edward dismounted and retrieved her hat - that was the first time they met," he said.

"Edward and Maria had an 18 year honeymoon - every morning, a kiss started the day and every night a kiss ended the day, without exception."

The Offertory Gifts reflected Mrs O'Grady's life interests including her hunting hat, a family picture and flowers.

The mourners included leading equestrian and sporting figures such as Mouse Morris, Niall Quinn, Henry de Bromhead, Barry Geraghty, Charlie Swan, Charles O'Brien, Andrew McNamara, Christy Grassick, Arthur Moore and Fozzy Stack.

Mrs O'Grady was a member of the Tipperary Hunt and was thrown from her horse during a hunt with Tipperary Foxhounds in Grantstown on Saturday. She suffered severe head and neck injuries in the fall.

She was pronounced dead before she could be rushed by air ambulance to hospital.

Special guards of honour were provided by Tipperary Hunt, Tipperary Foxhounds, Tipperary Pony Club and Moyglass National School.

The Ursuline Convent Choir from Thurles sang at the Requiem Mass.

Nee Anderton, Ms O'Grady was originally from Ballymackey outside Nenagh but had lived with her husband at Ballynonty.

The mourners were led by her husband, Edward, her daughters Mimi and Rosie Mae, her extended family Jonathan, Amber and Lucy, her sister Katherine and brother-in-law Konrad.

Mr O'Grady ranks as one of Ireland's most highly respected trainers. With a total of 19 winners at the famous Cheltenham National Hunt festival, he ranks as Ireland's third most successful trainer at the Cotswolds track. He celebrated his first Cheltenham winner in 1974 with Mr Midland.