The way they remember her best: Doves and tears released at murder victim Jill Meagher’s funeral at Fawkner Cemetery yesterday.UP ON Blackhill Road in Gisborne South, where Irish-born Gillian ”Jill” Meagher was found dead just over a week ago, the site of her shallow grave is now awash with flowers and mementoes.
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They look like staying for some time. There is even local talk of a permanent memorial, a tree perhaps.

Attached to the farm fence near where she last lay are handmade posters calling for the re-introduction of the death penalty.

In Brunswick’s Sydney Road, meanwhile, the garden of flowers left outside the Duchess Bridal Boutique – from which the 29-year-old ABC employee was last captured in chilling CCTV footage – have gone, packed up by council workers this week and taken to the family’s funeral director in North Melbourne.

Sydney Road was where 30,000 people marched last weekend, for Jill and for young women in Melbourne everywhere, as a show of strength.

That was big and bold. Her funeral yesterday was small and private, by invitation only, but no less bold. In true Irish style it was full of laughs and full of a joyous longing for the life she led, rather than the darkness in which she died.

In an extraordinarily touching moment afterwards her father, George McKeon, who was inconsolable and wailing during his eulogy at a tiny chapel inside Fawkner Cemetery, waved lovingly at the 29 white doves released as a tribute to his lost daughter’s free spirit.

The doves flew up and up, and up some more, and dived and circled back towards Mr McKeon and the gathering outside the chapel. They then headed west, away from him, towards Perth where he lives and onward, perhaps towards Ireland. The hug with Jill’s husband, Tom Meagher, seemed endless.

The silence at this point was deafening. The doves had gone. The music that played throughout the service had stopped.

Meagher had earlier bade her farewell with the words: ”Goodbye, my beautiful, funny girl. I will love you forever.” He also used the Gaelic phrase ”slan abhaile mo chara”, meaning ”safe home, my friend”.

Jill Meagher’s mother, Edith McKeon, showed great courage. She remembered her feisty, quirky daughter as: ”Clumsy as hell, but she had great style.”

From the moment Gillian was born in Drogheda, north of Dublin, she was ”goofy.”

But she was empathetic, she was ”gorgeous”, her mother said. ”I smile when I think of her.”

Many of the women at the funeral – and there were plenty of about Jill Meagher’s age – tottered about in outlandish coloured high heels, a tribute to her. She loved shoes, the gathering was told more than once. And music. Her favourite song was Make Your Own Kind of Music, by Mamma Cass, a song about not caring what others think. It was played, as was The Girl From the North Country, by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash:

”… please see for me if her hair’s hanging long/for that’s the way I remember her best …”

There was dancing at the funeral. Those of us outside couldn’t see it, but we could hear it. The family gave the media permission to watch and record from a distance.

Jill’s friend Aoife (who asked her surname not be used) was the ringleader. The song chosen was Under Pressure, by Queen and David Bowie.

This was just after Tom Meagher’s sister told the funeral that Jill was funnier than most other people, and had actually once slipped on a banana peel.

She loved to ”clown”, she loved to dance. After everyone danced yesterday, they clapped. They also clapped when the doves flew west, and they clapped long and hard, many mourners smiling, many crying.

”Keep dancing,” said Edith McKeon, and ”keep throwing frisbees.”

Her brother, Michael, said his sister was an ”advocate of freedom”, and while it was horrific to lose her in such a manner, she was not gone. ”She was so precious to us,” continued Edith McKeon. ”Share and enjoy the craic.”

Everyone at the funeral was given a bracelet and white ribbon, for a United Nations initiative to stop violence against women.

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