Tuesday 25 July 2017

'We're glad you're with the love of your life for eternity'

Town pays emotional tribute to 'angel' Aine

Barry Duggan

Fr Moynihan said Aine was a girl who was full of get-up-and-go, a girl who was well able to fight her corner

THE white coffin was carried into the church covered in touching, handwritten messages.

"To my angel," one read, "Sleeping beauty, rest in peace" said another.

It was a unique visual tribute as Aine Riordan's coffin bore the sad epitaphs written by her heartbroken family and friends during her wake.

Schoolmates, friends and neighbours of the 15-year-old teenager rallied around her grieving family at an emotional funeral yesterday.

Aine's classmates had not expected to be reunited until the start of next week's school term but all stood somberly, many sobbing, in north Kerry yesterday to bid a tearful farewell to their pal.

The Castleisland student died alongside her long-time boyfriend David Breen (17), his younger brother Kevin (15) and Brian Coffey (19), following Wednesday morning's single vehicle accident on the N72 Killarney-Barraduff road.

Aine's funeral was the first of the four teens to be held in what is proving to be a very painful and testing time across Kerry and the numbed communities where the youths came from.

Yesterday, the outpouring of grief at St Stephen and St John's Church in Castleisland was in stark contrast to the bright sunshine that beamed from above.

Dressed immaculately in the dark uniform of St Joseph's Presentation School, Aine's classmates formed a guard of honour as the white coffin was brought from her home through the town. Locals stopped and bowed their heads as the popular girl made her final journey through the main street.

Her secondary school sits alongside the Castleisland church, and a single dark ribbon hung from its entrance gate with a short note underneath. It read: "In loving memory of our student Aine. Ar dheis De go raibh a hanam."

A tribute on one of the many wreaths recalled the warmth of the relationship she shared with her boyfriend David: "We are glad that you are with the love of your life for eternity." His remains, along with those of his brother Kevin were taken to St Mary's Cathedral in Killarney yesterday evening.

Chord

A short poem on another tribute was read by many attending the Mass. It struck a chord with all. "Memories are like leaves of gold, they never tarnish or grow old, no more tomorrow for us to share, but yesterday's memories will always be there."

Inside the church, Fr Michael Moynihan told the hundreds gathered in grief that President Mary McAleese wished to convey her sympathy to the Riordan family "at this tragic and difficult time".

Placed on the altar were symbols of Aine's life, including glitter which represented her love of art, a football for her passion for sport, her school hoodie and a bracelet.

Fr Moynihan said Aine was "a young girl, full of life, with much to offer".

He said she had been described as bright and intelligent, an all-round athlete and "a girl who was full of get-up-and-go, a girl who was well able to fight her corner".

"We are left with feelings of shock, loss, sadness and disbelief that life can change in an instant." Addressing the many grieving students, Fr Moynihan said life would not be the same without Aine. He said it was important that they talked to each other and prayed for their friend.

"We pray in sadness, but also in hope that death is not the end but the beginning of a new life, an eternal life," the priest said.

Aine's devastated parents, Dan and Mary, sat alongside her sisters -- Samantha, Cait and Tara -- with their heads bowed.

Fr Moynihan acknowledged that her parents and family would miss her the most and said everyone's hearts went out to Aine's relations at this time of great loss, sorrow and sadness.

"Every parent expects to see their children into adulthood as children would expect to see their parents into old age, but this is not to be for Aine's family," he said.

Memories

During the offertory prayers, a friend of Aine's said last Wednesday was a black day for all.

"Aine, thanks for all the memories and fun times we had together, we will love and miss you always and keep you in our hearts forever," the friend said.

A long line of sympathisers offered their condolences to family members after the funeral service. None of Aine's family chose to spoke during the service, but the pain etched on their faces was a clear description of the turmoil that has entered their lives since Wednesday's horrific crash.

Clearly struggling with their grief, her heartbroken sisters hugged each other as Aine's remains left the church where she had celebrated her Confirmation a few years ago.

Following the service, a second guard of honour was formed by her school friends as four motorcyclists led the cortege and mournful family to Aine's final resting place at Clogher cemetery.

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Irish Independent

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