In St Peter’s Church, which was bedecked with flowers from the garden at Moyglare Stud, Pat Smullen was laid to rest on Friday near his home in Rhode.
The family service, restricted in numbers because of Covid-19 protocols, was streamed via Zoom and was joined by 700 mourners from around the world, including many of the multiple champion jockey’s friends from the weighing-room.
Paying tribute to her husband during the service, Frances Crowley referred to the fact that his death came exactly a year after the Pat Smullen Champions Race, which helped to raise more than €2.5 million for Cancer Trials Ireland during Irish Champions Weekend.
“I think that symbolises exactly what it meant to him,” she said.
Smullen, 43, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2018 and died in St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin on Tuesday evening. As he was brought home to Co Offaly on Wednesday, the hearse passed by the Curragh, where the flags flew at half-mast at the racecourse which had been the scene of some his greatest triumphs, including two Irish Derby victories aboard Harzand (Ire) and Grey Swallow (Ire). Harzand’s saddle cloths from the Derby and Irish Derby were draped across his coffin.
In her composed address, which acknowledged the loss felt by her husband’s legion of family and friends, Crowley offered encouragement to others facing a similar struggle with illness.
She said, “I have a message to you from Pat: keep going, don’t lose heart, please don’t let this knock you back.”
Crowley’s moving tribute ended with her own message to her husband, “We know you did your best in everything you did, Pat. You always did your best. Always.”