Tuesday 27 September 2016

A city convulsed with grief as search ends in tragedy

When he arrived in Glasgow, Adam Cullen found a community full of love, grief and fear for the missing Irish girl

Published 19/04/2015 | 02:30

GRIEF: Flowers and candles are left by fellow students and members of the public during a silent vigil for Karen Buckley
GRIEF: Flowers and candles are left by fellow students and members of the public during a silent vigil for Karen Buckley

When I landed in Glasgow last Tuesday morning, it was difficult to know what lay ahead.

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Karen Buckley had been missing for just under two days, and hopes of finding her alive were fading quickly.

It was my first visit to the Scottish city and, ashamedly I have to admit, stereotypes immediately rushed to mind. Images of Old Firm violence between Celtic and Rangers fans flickered through my thoughts as I landed at the airport. I expected to encounter a tough, harsh landscape, but on the ground, all I found was a city full of love, grief and fear for the missing Irish student.

Karen had lived among the Glaswegians for just three short months before her death, but the locals embraced her as of one of their own. The 24-year-old moved to the city in January to study occupational therapy at Glasgow Caledonian University. She adapted to life quickly on Clydeside and embraced the bustling nightlife just as any young student would.

Coverage of Karen's disappearance dominated the local news agenda for the entire week. "It's all anyone here is talking about," one taxi driver said. "This is the first time in weeks that some form of election story hasn't been on the front page."

All week, Karen Buckley was the name on everybody's lips. As I covered the story, locals would approach me on the street when they heard my accent to speak of their heartbreak.

In the early hours of Thursday morning, the worst fears of the Buckley family were confirmed when Karen's remains were discovered on a farm, 10km outside of Glasgow, following a four-day search.

The grief was echoed throughout the city as hundreds turned out to pay their respects at vigils on Friday night and late yesterday evening.

Glaswegians embraced the devastated Buckley family as they attended a ceremony held in their beloved daughter's memory on Friday. Karen's heartbroken mother, Marian, hugged strangers at George Square, saying she "still could not believe what had happened".

The kindness, compassion and professionalism of the Police Scotland officers, who spared no expense to ensure every resource at its disposal was used in the search of find Karen, must also be commended.

Lead investigator, Detective Superintendent Jim Kerr, had said finding Karen was "their number one priority", and throughout a traumatic week, the police, and the entire city, were as good as their word.

Sunday Independent

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