Saturday 1 October 2016

Little Jessica (8) was a miracle child who 'radiated innocence and love' - funeral told

Published 05/08/2016 | 14:09

Jessica Needham
Jessica Needham
Funeral of Jessica Needham in Islandeady, Co Mayo. Picture: Conor McKeown
Funeral of Jessica Needham in Islandeady, Co Mayo. Picture: Conor McKeown

Mourners at the funeral of eight-year-old Jessica Needham today heard how she had been a miracle child who "radiated innocence and love for everybody".

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Hundreds of mourners packed into St Patrick's Church in Islandeady today to say a heartbreaking farewell to the little girl who was remembered most dearly for her love of hugging.

Her grief stricken parents Michelle and Pat and little sister Grace followed the tiny white coffin into the packed church where pictures of Jessica adorned the altar.

Among them a collage of photos capturing her first 12 months of life when she had battled to survive.

Funeral of Jessica Needham in Islandeady, Co Mayo. Picture: Conor McKeown
Funeral of Jessica Needham in Islandeady, Co Mayo. Picture: Conor McKeown

Jessica was recalled as a miracle child. One of quadruplets, sadly her brother Ben and sisters Amy and Sophie died within days of their birth but Jessica fought for life for five or six months in hospital.

"In the Cemetery after, white Angel Doves will soar towards Heaven where her Angel sisters and brother are waiting. Now there is another little Angel in Heave that we can pray to - not for," Fr Pat Donnellan told a packed congregation.

The little girl, who was already preparing for her First Communion next May was "greatly loved in school, at home and everywhere because she radiated innocence and love for everybody" he said.

"She probably taught more about love in her short eight years than most people do in a lifetime. If only the world could share such love, then it would be a beautiful world," he added.

Funeral of Jessica Needham in Islandeady, Co Mayo. Picture: Conor McKeown
Funeral of Jessica Needham in Islandeady, Co Mayo. Picture: Conor McKeown

Mourners heard how the little girl had enjoyed the Islandeady Festival at the weekend, cheering on her mum in the 5km run and taking part in all the races no matter what the age group.

But suddenly the family and community were plunged into grief on Tuesday following the tragic accident which claimed her life.

"Grief is the price we pay for love," said Fr Donnellan, "But the price is huge when it is the intense love of a parent for a child, especially a miracle child as beautiful and loving as little Jessica."

He told how the courage and kindness of the community would be needed to help the family in the months and years ahead.

Collect pic of Jessica Needham 8 yrs who was killed on Tuesday by a tractor on her family farm...pic shows Jessica Riught with her Mum Michelle & younger sister Grace Left.......
Collect pic of Jessica Needham 8 yrs who was killed on Tuesday by a tractor on her family farm...pic shows Jessica Riught with her Mum Michelle & younger sister Grace Left.......

Magazines and books remembering Jessica's love of reading and how she cherished family time were brought to the altar alongside her runners to recall her boundless energy.

Toys that she loved and artwork she was done were also brought up along with her Cúl Camp jersey, with her aunt Maggie telling mourners it represented "her eagerness and enthusiasm for taking part in sport and her pride in doing her best and her joy in having lots of fun with her friends".

"It's a pity we can't bring some physical hugs up to the altar because I'm sure that is what Jessica would have wanted. She probably would have hugged everybody in here," she added.

Funeral of Jessica Needham in Islandeady, Co Mayo. Picture: Conor McKeown
Funeral of Jessica Needham in Islandeady, Co Mayo. Picture: Conor McKeown

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