Monday 26 September 2016

Poignant farewell to mum and daughter killed in crash - 'the best you could ask for'

Mourners pay tribute to pair who drowned after tragic flood collision

Lynne Kelleher

Published 27/12/2015 | 02:30

SAD: The funeral of Louise Clancy and her mother Geraldine at St Martin’s Church, Kilworth
SAD: The funeral of Louise Clancy and her mother Geraldine at St Martin’s Church, Kilworth

Hundreds of mourners turned out in the rain yesterday to say goodbye to the mother and daughter who tragically died in a freak accident on their way to do Christmas shopping.

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The coffins of mother and daughter, Geraldine (58) and Louise Clancy (22), poignantly rested side by side at the altar of St Martin's Church in Kilworth, Co Cork during the emotional St Stephen's Day funeral service.

Louise Clancy, who died along with her mother.
Louise Clancy, who died along with her mother.

Geraldine and Louise drowned after their car was involved in a collision with another vehicle and veered through a ditch into a flooded field on the Kilworth to Ballyduff road on Tuesday.

Bright student Louise, who described herself as a high-functioning autistic on social media, was remembered for being at her "happiest ever" before she died.

Her mother was described as being a typical Irish mammy who was at the heart of their home.

Declan Clancy smiled through his grief as he paid a moving tribute to his mother and sister with his voice breaking at the end as he told them: "I love you Lou and Mam. We'll never forget you."

The Cork student sat at the front of the packed church with his sister Fiona and father Noel. A huge crowd of mourners started arriving an hour and half before the service and stood in the pouring rain as they waited to pay their respects.

Devastated Declan described his mother as a "brilliant mam and wife". He said: "We all loved her dearly. We were a very happy family."

Tragic Geraldine Clancy, who died with her daughter Louise in a freak accident close to their home
Tragic Geraldine Clancy, who died with her daughter Louise in a freak accident close to their home

He told a story of how his dad first met his mother at a Macra na Feirme meeting in Fermoy. He said: "His first sighting ever of Mam was at a Macra meeting. He suddenly proposed - how romantic was that! A minor detail, he proposed her for a role in the Fermoy Macra executive. But their love blossomed from there. The rest is history.

"She was the best mam anyone could ever ask for. She loved us, encouraged us, consoled us, made sure we had every opportunity in life from going to college to studying abroad. Her love for us and Dad was endless.

"We were continuously told these last few days that we, her children, were her proudest achievement. Yet we are so proud of her."

Symbols brought up to the altar at the start of the mass represented the lives and loves of the tragic mother and daughter.

A tablet and iPad represented the pair's devotion to social media.

While Geraldine was described as a "late starter to the IT crowd", the congregation were told how she used Whatsapp, Snapchat and Skype to have daily contact with her three children in various colleges.

A handbag and scarves symbolised Geraldine's love of accessories and her retail career in Shaw's in Fermoy while a Gaisce award symbolised Louise's high achievements, despite her struggles with Asperger Syndrome.

Father Donal Leahy told the congregation that Louise only had "about 50 words" when she was five but once she widened her vocabulary, she never stopped talking.

Declan told the mourners his sister Louise had "packed a lot into her 22 years".

He said: "As a sister Lou was the best you could ask for.

"She shone bright with excitement as she faced every challenge with an energy I could only be inspired by. She was the most genuine person I knew.

"Louise had many true friends that she loved and they loved her in return.

"I want to share a few words from one of those friends, Hannah. It sums up Louise better than I ever could. Hannah said: 'Louise was herself at all times. She was proud of the things she cared about and few people cared the way that Louise cared. She was warm-hearted, clever and above all, Louise was the bravest person I've ever met.'"

Declan continued his tribute to his sister by telling of his young sister's inspirational journey through life.

He said: "She seemed to decide early on that the challenges she came up against, and they were many, would never defeat her".

"Things were really going Louise's way over the last few years. She was storming ahead in university, her journalistic ambitions were taking off, she had a boyfriend, Dudley, who she really loved. No one deserved that happiness more."

"When Louise passed away, it was the happiest she had ever been. Louise, it was an honour. Thank you. You could not have been more loved.

"I would like to finish with a few words from Lou herself which she wrote in a reflection on the Paris atrocity.

"Louise wrote: 'To my loved ones I love you all so much. I am so grateful that you have made my life happy and you are here'."

He said a poem called 15 Years: A Journey written by Louise, best summed up how far she had come since starting at a school for children with special needs at the age of five, before fast forwarding 15 years later to enrolling at University College Cork.

"A young couple drive down back roads to the city with their three young kids .

"The youngest aged five is about a start a special kind of school.

"As she looked quietly everywhere the couple smiled knowingly.

"They finally got her there.

"An older couple drive the motorway to the city with one of their kids

"The youngest aged 20 is about to start at a well-respected university

"The couple discuss the affairs of the day.

"The girl smiles knowingly. She got everything she fought for. Her way."

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