IT happened the way the family wanted and had asked for; a simple, unadorned ceremony with close friends and neighbours where they could say their last farewells to Limerick rock star Dolores O'Riordan.
And it was not the presence of well-known faces from the music world or the presence of large camera crews, photographers and reporters, which set it apart and made it memorable.
It was the music; the soft violins of the Irish Chamber Orchestra as each mourner arrived to fill the seats in the tiny Ballybricken Church in The Cranberries' frontwoman's native place, the exquisite and moving sound of two nieces, Katie and Noelle, singing in mournful A Capella, but above all the haunting and evocative Ave Maria recorded by Dolores herself with Luciano Pavarotti, pouring out from the church into the weak winter sunshine.
Once more and yet again, people turned to one another to ask: How could this great voice and talent be lost to us forever?
The gifts brought to the flower-banked altar as symbols of Dolores’ shortened life underlined this sense of loss - a guitar, a platinum record, a poetry book. A nephew brought a family heirloom, the picture of Our Lady of Dolours, after whom Dolores was named, and which has been passed down through the generations.
That sense of loss was all the more acute because she was being buried on the anniversary of her baby brother Gerard.
The gospel spoke of love and compassion for others and in his homily, family friend, Canon Liam McNamara, spoke of Dolores’ “kind, good and generous heart”.
“No words are adequate to describe Dolores or to accurately state the influence for good she has been over the years,” he said.
He spoke too of her immense “God-given talent” and how she shared it with others, her enquiring mind, and her great love for her home place of Ballybricken.
“This is a difficult day not just for Ballybricken, but for the world.”
But he spoke of Dolores’ strong and abiding faith in God, and said that those with faith “know well that we have not lost that gifted and talented singer.”
She was, Canon McNamara said, now singing in the heavenly choir.
“But, being human we shall miss her gentle hand-shake, her loving smile.”
The congregation clapped as Dolores’ carved coffin was brought down the aisle, past the small shrine in her honour in a corner, and out into the windy hillside where four pipers, including two nephews, played Hard Times.
As the funeral cortege moved off to a private burial in Caherelly, Dolores’ voice was heard again, a last Ave lingering over the Ballybricken countryside.