Tuesday 16 January 2018

'She had a smile to lift a thousand frowns' - mourners weep at tragic Irish nurse Karen Buckley's funeral

Guard of honour from St Mary's Convent
Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Guard of honour from St Mary's Convent Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Tragic Irish nurse Karen Buckley (24) was hailed for having "a smile to lift a thousand frowns".

The tribute came as more than 600 people attended the Requiem Mass for the Cork student whose body was found on an isolated Scottish hill farm following a massive three day police search after she vanished from a Glasgow nightclub on April 12.

The tightknit farming community of Mourneabbey/Analeentha in north Cork came to a standstill today as people travelled from all over Ireland and the UK to honour a young woman who simply wanted to devote her life to helping others.

Courier operator Alexander Pacteau (21) is now charged with Karen's murder in Glasgow.

The crowd attending the Church of St Michael the Archangel in Analeentha, which only has a capacity of 300, was so great a special marquee had to be erected in the grounds to cater for the over-flow.

Gardai implemented a one-way traffic system and special park-and-ride arrangements to ease congestion.

Mourneabbey parish priest Fr Joe O'Keeffe was joined by 19 other priests on the altar.

READ MORE: Heartbroken dad and brothers carry Karen on her final journey

Mourners openly wept as Karen's cousin, Siobhan Leahy, read out a special poem in her honour at the Mass.

Entitled 'Karen', the poem highlighted the loves and goals of her all-too-brief 24 years.

"Small and gentle, honest and true, our sister Karen, how much we will miss you."

"These days gone by, have only showed, the love for you, that this world holds." "From green country fields, a small country school, to a national university, and international studies too."

"A nurse with plans, a woman full of dreams, an adventurer who travelled and in fun and laughter revelled."

"A smile to lift a thousand frowns, brown eyes shining – big and round, a country girl – big hopes, big plans, big heart, big smile and caring hands."

"How great you loved, how much you cared, how much you gave, how much you shared."

"Sleep easy Karen, you’re now at rest, throughout your life you gave your best, how much we miss you, we can’t fully express."


Mourneabbey parish priest, Fr Joe O'Keeffe, admitted the entire community was shocked by Karen's death.

He said the day reminded him of time, tears and faith.

"We are deeply, deeply saddened when the life of someone so young is cut short, and in Karen’s case, so tragically and horrifically so, by the curtain of death," he said.

"Death is sad at any age, but our feelings concerning death are not always of the same degree."

"To us Karen was a young woman, a friend.  To her family she was a cousin, a niece, a sister-in-law, a sister, a daughter, a child.  It is most difficult then for them, but in particular for Karen’s parents, John and Marian, to associate the cradle to the coffin."

"One represents the beginning of life and the other represents the end.  And it is doubly sad when the two are so closely linked."

But Fr O'Keeffe said Karen had packed a lot into her short life.

"Through travelling extensively Karen reached many a destination.  Shortly, we will travel with her mortal remains on her last earthly journey.  We pray Karen has already reached her final destination and that she has touched the hem of Jesus’ gown and is with God in heaven."

The Offertory Gifts were brought to the altar by Karen's parents, John (62) and Marian (61).

Gifts to symbolise her life were offered by her brothers, Brendan (32), Kieran (28) and Damien.

Her cousin, Padraig Hurley,  explained that the gifts reflected Karen's life.

"(They) represent her personality, achievements and her love for life," he said.

"Brendan is bringing up a picture of Karen’s first day in Analeentha National School where she began her education, and developed a love for learning.  Most recently Karen was studying for her Masters in Occupational Health Therapy."

"Kieran is bringing up Karen’s nursing uniform.  Karen graduated as a nurse in 2014.  She was known for being a kind and caring nurse whose smile would light up the ward."

'Damien brings up Karen’s favourite dress that she wore to Brendan and Niamh’s wedding.  Karen had a love of fashion and always wanted to look her best.  As you can see from the picture she looked beautiful."

Mourners were told that Analeentha church had witnessed Karen's baptism, her Holy Communion and her Confirmation. Karen was also an altar server at the church as a young girl.

Following Requiem Mass, Karen will be brought to St John's Cemetery in Burnfort where she will be buried beside her grandparents.

Special guards of honour were provided at her removal by St Mary's secondary school in Mallow and by Karen's University of Limerick nursing classmates.

Both Glasgow police and Glasgow Caledonian University, where Karen was studying, were represented at the Requiem Mass.

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