Friday 21 November 2014

Life is for living – message for teen pals as tragic Chloe is laid to rest

Published 08/10/2013 | 04:00

Tributes to Chloe Kinsella at her funeral
Chloe Kinsella's mother Shirley is comforted by her brother Matthew at St Munchin's Church, Limerick
Chloe Kinsella

SHE was a 'beauty', a champion hip-hop dancer who performed for the President and who made cups of tea for her dad.

She was kind, loving and soft-hearted.

She was just 15 years old when she died.

There was no 'razzmatazz' at the funeral of tragic Chloe Kinsella at St Munchin's Church on Limerick's Clancy Strand – and very deliberately so.

Amid their searing grief, the family of the schoolgirl who took her own life last week, were deeply conscious of other young people like her and the possible effect her death might have on them.

They wanted no young person to look at the outpouring of grief and think that they would like something similar for themselves.

And so, the reminder was issued that 'life is for living'.

The message of Chloe's funeral was devastatingly simple and yet frighteningly poignant, given its direction towards troubled teenagers desperately grappling with the trials of life.

The homily of parish curate Father Pat Seaver was written very carefully in conjunction with Chloe's parents, Kevin and Shirley, staff at her school and community workers.

There had already been another teenage suicide in the area during the summer, Fr Seaver reminded them. "We do not want to see any more tragedies," he said.

"All of us are anxious about one thing – not to glamourise Chloe's funeral service. Her death is tragic," said Fr Seaver firmly. "Life is for living, especially for young people, and especially for 15-year-olds."

He told mourners how, a few years ago, a guidance counsellor in Cork asked students to write about their reaction to a suicide. Shockingly, almost half had written: "What a great way to go. I'd like to have the courage to do the same."

Among the congregation, many people – young and old – winced as Fr Seaver's words rang strongly out in the church.

Hundreds of mourners packed the church. All wanted to give support to Chloe's parents and her brothers and sisters at this terrible time.

Many of the young girl's friends and classmates from St Nessan's school wore pink as a sign of remembrance. It had been her favourite colour.

In a moving tribute, Chloe's older sister Marguerite told how she will never forget the young girl and how beautiful she was.

PROUD

Even though she was just 15, she always looked her best. "I'll always remember you in your room, doing yourself up like a model," she said.

She always wanted the best for Chloe because that was what she deserved, she said.

On one occasion, Chloe had been "delighted" when Marguerite had got tickets for them both to see One Direction in concert.

"I know we had our ups and downs but I loved the bones of you," she said emotionally, adding: "I was so proud to call you my sister."

The family had already lost one sister, Sophie, to heart illness at the age of three some years ago.

"I never thought we'd have two angels looking over our family," said Marguerite.

Local businessman John Costelloe, who led the search for the teen, paid tribute to the community.

"No stone was left unturned 'til we found Chloe, and we have her here," he said.

Applause rang out as he thanked local youngsters for their help in the search. One teenager had broken his arm while conducting a search.

Mr Costelloe said the young people were an example "not only to Limerick but to Ireland and the world".

Chloe's friends broke down in bewildered grief and wept in one another's arms as, to the music of 'You Raise Me Up', the white coffin left the church, the devastated family in its wake, taking Chloe's remains to Mount St Oliver cemetery, to be buried beside her baby sister Sophie (3), who died in 2004.

There was one hearse for the coffin and another for the mass of floral tributes.

Teddy bears, hearts, make-up palettes and mobile phones – all the innocent paraphernalia of teenage life was there.

But they were spelled out in funeral flowers.

By Nicola Anderson

Irish Independent

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