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Sunday 23 April 2017

Balloons soar skyward in memory of 'angel' Manuela

Brian McDonald

TRAGIC Swiss teenager Manuela Riedo was remembered at a poignant ceremony in Galway yesterday.

Manuela was just 17 when she arrived in Galway with her schoolfriends to learn English in October, 2007. Just over 48 hours later, her body was discovered in bushes close to the Galway-Dublin railway line.

Her killer, Gerald Barry (30), is serving three life sentences for Manuela's murder and the rape of a young student in Galway in the same year.

He was also sentenced last March to two years in prison for assaulting his former partner also in 2007, less than six months before he murdered Manuela.

His appeal against this sentence was rejected by Galway Circuit Court earlier this week.

Manuela would have been 21 next month, but instead of making plans for her birthday at home in Hinterkappelen, her parents travelled back to Galway yesterday where they sent balloons soaring to the sky at Salthill beach in her memory.

They were joined by friends and well-wishers and teenage girls from five Galway schools who carried the balloons in Manuela's memory. A lone piper played a lament as the balloons rose high over Galway Bay.

Hans Peter and Arlette Riedo had also released balloons after their only child's funeral service in her home village as a symbol of her spirit rising to the skies.

"The last three years have been very difficult, but it is getting a little bit better -- we have a long way to go," Mr Riedo said. "It is very important to come back to Galway. It helps us for the future. Manuela was an angel."

After the balloon release, Mr and Mrs Riedo were special guests at a special evening of entertainment 'A Night for Manuela' in Salthill. Sharon Shannon, Mary Coughlan, Lucia Evans, Dessie O'Halloran and the Mulkerrin Brothers were among the acts taking part in the sold-out concert.

Organiser Shane Lennon said there would always be a special welcome from the people of Galway for Manuela's parents, even though the journey must have been painful for them.

"This family should be in Switzerland making plans for a 21st birthday party. Sadly they're in Galway, remembering their lovely daughter," he said.

All funds raised from last night's concert will go toward preventing sexual violence and assisting victims.

Irish Independent

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