'You must be Nicola's arms to hold Lily-Rose - and her mouth to praise and lift her up'
Published 09/09/2016 | 02:30
At the heart of such unimaginable sorrow, a cluster of mourners wearing Minnie Mouse T-shirts carried jaunty pink helium balloons bearing the face of the cartoon mouse, floating high in the air, as they followed the hearse up Cathedral Street.
It was a deeply poignant and somewhat unusual sight - but it spoke volumes.
Of Nicola Kenny's 26 short years. Of her love of life, frivolity and Disney characters. Of her femininity and her penchant for fashion.
But it also said more. With Minnie Mouse a familiar totem throughout maternity units everywhere, the bravely floating polka dot balloons seemed to strike a defiant note of hope and courage for the newborn baby to whom Nicola had been a mother for just one short day.
Amid the grief, seemed also to come a vow that little Lily-Rose would want for nothing when it comes to love.
The baby was present, too, in the flowers held by Nicola's friends - a red rose for her and a white lily for her tiny daughter.
It was down to the family and friends to fill the vacuum left by Nicola's untimely death, Chief Celebrant Fr Vincent Stapleton told mourners at the funeral.
"You must be Nicola's arms to hold her, her mouth to praise her and lift her up, Nicola's ears to listen to her," he said of her baby.
Nicola's mother, Ann, also injured in the collision which took the life of her beloved daughter, attended the funeral in a wheelchair, her arm in a sling draped in black, together with her husband Patrick and son Patrick Junior.
The Cathedral of the Assumption in Thurles was filled with those who had come to pay their last respects, amongst them former minister Alan Kelly and former politician Des Hanafin, a long-time friend of the family. "The baby will be well looked after because that's the kind of family they are," he said.
Symbols of Nicola's "great zest for life" were brought to the altar, including a Mini Mouse headband and an Olly Murs CD.
A pair of runners signified her love of fashion and her "many, many pairs of runners" while her best friends Nellie and Aisling brought up a framed photo symbolising Nicola's many friendships.
The funeral mass was con-celebrated by archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Kieran O'Reilly.
Fr Stapleton commented on the circumstances of Nicola's sudden passing, as Tipperary had been celebrating the All-Ireland hurling final victory.
"Little did we know that just down in the road in Kennedy Park, the Kenny family and local community around them were left reeling from the cruel blow, as the news of Nicola's tragic death in a road accident filtered through," he said.
But he said he could not speak well enough of the support given to the family.
Nicola had been just days into motherhood and had just received the good news about Lily-Rose when her own life came to a sudden end, he said.
But in her short 26 years, the young woman had made "so many heart connections".
"She was a beacon of life to her family and to a wide circle of friends and their children," said Fr Stapleton.
"She was a 'get up and go' girl," he said.
Fr Stapleton said Ms Kenny's last great act of love was the birth of her daughter.
"She would have had so much love to give her. She can give it no longer in body now but in spirit."
And he called on the family and friends to fill that vacuum so that Lily-Rose can live life to the full like her mother did.
As the coffin left the church, a young woman, her baby in a buggy, stepped forward bearing a large bouquet of cheerful sunflowers. She placed them carefully next to the coffin, one mum to another.