Friday 24 March 2017

Scenes of heartbreak at funeral of Natalie McGuinness (23): 'Time will never heal our loss'

All of Easkey mourns as local girl is laid to rest

The funeral of Natalie McGuinness at St James's Church, Easkey, Co Sligo
The funeral of Natalie McGuinness at St James's Church, Easkey, Co Sligo

Paddy Clancy

There were scenes of utter heartbreak yesterday as more than 1,000 mourners attended the funeral of Natalie McGuinness (23), who died in violent circumstances in Sligo last Wednesday.

Parish priest Fr Kevin Loftus told how a piece of paper with words of love written by Natalie hung on the wall of the front room of the family home where her body lay at Easkey, Co Sligo.

It read: "Love every moment of every day. Love is beyond words."

The priest said: "It is a lovely motto to live by."

Childcare worker Natalie, born on New Year's Day, 1992, was described by mourners as "bubbly" and "a dynamo" at work. But the most moving account of her life was related by her father, John Joe, as he fought back tears on the altar of St James's Church in Easkey. He told worshippers, who were also fighting back tears, how at various stages of her childhood Natalie wanted to do different things with her life.

She wanted to be a jockey and she had a horse called Costello, which the rest of the family called "Costalot."

Then she wanted to be a garda, but her grandfather Sean McGuinness told her she was too small. Instead, she took up boxing.

Natalie worked as a child-care volunteer with West Sligo Resource Centre in Enniscrone and, as a result of her studies in community care, she was due to be upgraded next week. Her dad said: "She loved learning. We were so proud of her. She was the life and soul of the family."

He recalled Natalie's late- night chats with her only sister, Jodie, and her brother, Dean, and said they couldn't have had a better sibling.

"She was a great daughter - most of the time", Mr McGuinness said, as he broke into a smile and added : "She was a character - always stealing clothes from her sister and mother."

Mr McGuinness said: "People say time heals all wounds. I can tell you it can't be true.

"Our hearts are broken. Our beautiful, irreplaceable daughter was taken from us."

Easkey, bedecked with Halloween decorations all along the main street, was a sombre place as Natalie's funeral cortege made its way out of town to her burial in the McGuinness family plot at Churchill Cemetery, 7km away at Dromore West.

Natalie died at The Mews, Mailcoach Road, Sligo.

Oisin Conroy (33) - said to have been her boyfriend - was charged with her murder and was put on suicide watch in custody, following an order of Judge Kevin Kilraine, at Sligo District Court, last Thursday.

Sunday Independent

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