'She's the light of our family -- we can't imagine it gone'
THE distraught family of missing Catherine Gowing have described her as the "light of our family".
The community in Clonlee, Co Offaly, where the 37-year-old vet grew up, were in a state of shock yesterday as they learned of the arrest of a 46-year-old Welsh man for her murder.
Catherine's only sister, Emma, is in Wales with her husband Shay and is helping police build up a picture of the fun-loving young woman who has not been seen since she left work last Friday evening.
In a statement she said: "The family are devastated with the news and will try and come to terms with Catherine's disappearance. She is the light of our family and we can't imagine that light gone."
Catherine's elderly parents, John and Maureen, were being comforted by their local parish priest as they awaited news of the search for their daughter.
John Gowing is an 84-year-old retired farmer while his wife is a former primary school teacher in her 70s.
The couple were too distraught to accept visits from concerned neighbours.
"The shock of the whole thing is very hard for them," said a friend.
Kinnitty parish priest Fr Michael O'Mara spent time with the Gowing family yesterday.
"Catherine was a lovely, lovely person, both to her family and a lovely person to this community and a credit to her family," he said.
Fr O'Mara added that the entire community has been praying for the family since the news broke of Catherine's disappearance.
Local Fine Gael councillor Percy Clendennan said the news had been a shock to the entire community. "The whole place is just devastated. They were a lovely quiet family and they only have the two girls. They are very decent, respectable people and this will be very hard for them," he added. "This has come as a shock to the entire community. My heart goes out to the family.
"We only heard yesterday that there was a search going on for her over in Wales," he added.
Fianna Fail councillor Peter Ormond said the news has left the community reeling.
"The whole community here is absolutely devastated for the family and the shock goes right through the community. Everyone had great time for them, they were a quiet family who kept to themselves.
"Her mother was a teacher in Kinnity school, so long-standing people in the community," he added.