There were poignant scenes in a small parish in the west Kerry Gaeltacht yesterday as a community found a powerful way to pay their respects to a grieving family.
Due to Covid-19 social distancing restrictions, the Ryan family was unable to have a traditional wake and the community was not permitted to enter the church in Baile an Fheirtéaraigh.
However, the local community rallied around the family as people lined the 2km road between Baile an Fheirtéaraigh church and the local graveyard, while maintaining social distance, and said a final farewell to Betty Ryan.
It was a moving display of community solidarity, which had its origins in a message posted on social media the previous evening.
Tor Cotton said the guard of honour was a fitting tribute by a community that is very much attached to the traditional rituals of death and wakes.
"Death and wakes are so central to community life here in west Kerry and people were frustrated that this pandemic was preventing them to pay their respects to a wonderful woman and her family."
"In a Gaeltacht community such as this the process of lamenting the loss of a member of that community is handled by the community. Being unable to have a wake or enter the church is extremely difficult for the family."
"We decided to send out a message on social media and by text and people just embraced the idea. But we stressed it could only works if people respected social distancing."
In a Facebook post this morning Carol Ryan, Betty's daughter, expressed the profound sense of comfort and gratitude felt by the family on witnessing the display of community solidarity.
She said: "Very hard to find the words to say thank you to all of you in the community for yesterday.
"We felt every hug and every handshake in each of your faces on that journey to the graveyard. Mam would be so proud and so happy for us to have that support. Thank you all."