Castlebar came to a standstill on Wednesday afternoon and the business community shut their doors as the funeral of Private Ben Garrett, Kilnock, Breaffy, Castlebar, passed through the streets of the town in a military cortege before his burial in the New Cemetery in Castlebar. Private Garrett's body was found last Sunday in Galway following an 18 day search that saw hundreds of people scour the city and its surrounds on a daily basis looking for him after he was reported missing.
Private Garrett's funeral Mass, which was celebrated by Fr Michael Muprhy, took place in the Church of the Holy Rosary, where it was full to capacity with sympathisers and his Army colleagues from Galway city. His coffin was draped with a tri-colour and was transported to his final resting place on the back of a military transporter, followed by a large number of his colleagues who marched through the town as part of the funeral procession past large numbers of mourners who stood still on the streets as it passed through the town.
The funeral was attended by a number of senior Army officers, with Major General Kevin Cotter, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, and Lt Colonel Mary Carroll, the Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion in Galway, alongside Commandant Kieran Carey, Taoiseach Enda Kenny's aide de camp who represented the Taoiseach at the funeral.
Ben is survived by his mother Anne, his father Martin, and his sisters Kayleigh, Shannon, Caoimhe, and foster sister Tanya. Ahead of his funeral on Wednesday, his mother Ann posted a tribute on social media saying, "What a beautiful day! The sun is high in the sky and the birds are singing. A fitting tribute to your life Ben! We will walk behind you, safe in the knowledge that you will walk beside us every day of our lives.”
Castlebar Boxing Club, of which Ben was a member, also paid tribute this week to its "fallen warrior" saying "Ben will always be part of the heartbeat that exists in our world. Ben will always be loved, not only for his athletic ability but for his good nature, humour and a cheeky smile that would disarm you from 100 paces. We take strength from our memories and we thank Anne and Martin Garrett for sharing their son Ben with us."