Town at a standstill as thousands pay heartbreaking tribute to Karen Buckley
Thousands queued patiently last night to pay emotional final respects to tragic Irish nurse Karen Buckley.
The north Cork town of Mallow ground to a standstill as enormous crowds gathered to express their sympathy with the Buckley family on the heartbreaking loss of their only daughter.
Some had even travelled from Scotland to show their support for the Buckley family, who have endured, as Mourneabbey parish priest Fr Joe O'Keeffe admitted, "every parent's worst nightmare".
The removal was one of the biggest ever in Mallow and was marked by guards of honour from Karen's former schools, St Mary's secondary and her nursing classmates from the University of Limerick.
The 24-year-old student occupational therapist was found dead on an isolated Glasgow hill farm on April 15, just three days after a massive search operation was launched when she vanished from The Sanctuary nightclub. Courier firm operator Alexander Pacteau (21) has been charged with Karen's murder.
Queues formed in Mallow from 3pm for Karen's removal at O'Connell's funeral home and the doors were opened to mourners one hour early.
Her remains were brought to the funeral home yesterday morning after a special Rosary and prayer vigil on Sunday night at the family's Glynn home, outside Mourneabbey-Analeentha.
Karen's body had been flown home from Glasgow on Sunday at lunchtime via a special Aer Lingus Regional / Stobart Air flight. Last night, mourners passed a collection of photos of Karen, including her Holy Communion and UL graduation portraits. Among those in the long queue of mourners were staff members from The Hibernian Hotel, where Karen worked as a waitress in her teens.
Karen's framed photograph, fronted by a single lit candle, now rests on the hotel's reception desk.
Emotional scenes later marked the final removal of the coffin from the funeral home on St James Avenue for Karen's short final journey back to her native Analeentha outside Mourneabbey.
The coffin was shouldered by Karen's heartbroken father, John (62), and her brothers, Brendan (32), Kieran (28) and Damien (27). Her devastated mother, Marian (61), was close by as it left the funeral home shortly after 8pm.
Karen's funeral Mass will take place at the Church of St Michael the Archangel, Analeentha, at 2pm today with burial afterwards at St John's Cemetery, Burnfort.
A special park-and-ride system will be in place from Mallow GAA Club today for the Requiem Mass, while there will also be a one-way traffic system enforced in the area.