Irish News

Wednesday 23 July 2014

'Model pupil' was life and soul of her small community

Breda Heffernan and David Raleigh

Published 07/05/2013|04:00

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On far right is Emily Wilson (10), who died suddenly while warming up for a camogie game at Gortnahoe-Glengoole GAA grounds in Co Tipperary on May 4, 2013. Other two girls not identified

SHE is the angelic little girl, dressed all in white with her hands forming a steeple in that age-old pose of all children on their Communion day.

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Emily Wilson was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed child, a bundle of vivacious energy and fun – details that make her tragic death at just 10 years of age all the more impossible to comprehend.

A member of the children's choir in the local church, an altar server, a budding young sportswoman, she was at the heart of her community in Gortnahoe, Co Tipperary, and "involved in everything", as one local said.

But, more importantly, as the only child to Nick Wilson and Caitriona Clutterbuck, she was at the heart of their family.

The sleepy village of Gortnahoe is a typical Irish country parish where the inhabitants come together to mark important events, from hurling matches to community games.

It has been the family's home since Nick, originally from England, and UCD lecturer Caitriona, originally from the Ballingarry area of Co Tipperary, married 12 years ago.

The husband and wife helped organise monthly family Masses at the local church where Caitriona organised the choir and Nick played guitar. Emily was always at their side.

Pictured on her Communion Day two years ago (above), or shyly smiling at the camera as she lined up with her camogie teammates, Emily was the picture of youthful innocence and exuberance.

Derek O'Brien, principal of Gortnahoe National School where Emily was a fourth-class pupil, yesterday described her as a "model pupil".

"Across the board she was a model pupil – academically, artistically, musically, sportswise," he said.

Local priest Fr John O'Rourke, who knew Emily well from her time as an altar server, said the events of last Saturday would forever be etched in his mind as he received word that he was needed at the GAA pitch to pray over the child.

"For us on the field on Saturday, it was one of the most tragic days of our lives," he said.

People on the streets spoke of their devastation.

"For the parents, our hearts are broken. It's so sad for the family," said one mother.

Kathryn Stapleton (28), a mother of one, added: "It's just tragic. Horrible, absolutely horrible."

A man told how his own daughter was with Emily as she collapsed and was heartbroken at the loss of her friend.

"She was with Emily on the day. She was warming up on the pitch, and she was there when it happened. She's crying every now and again," he said, his voice becoming choked.

Irish Independent

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