The Camolin community is struggling to come to terms with the loss of little Lucy Ashling Dunbar (5), who died in her sleep overnight on Friday.
'She was the most popular girl in the school. She loved being the centre of attention and everything girly. Her two brothers throught the world of her. There was nothing they wouldn't do for her.'
Known as 'Lulu' to her family, Lucy Ashling Dunbar of Orchard Way, Camolin, was loved by so many, especially her parents Catherine and George, and her brothers Seán (17) and Eamonn (10).
Her unexpected death overnight on Friday, from a rare bacterial infection, has devastated all who knew and loved her.
Speaking before her funeral yesterday, Lucy's mother Catherine spoke lovingly of her daughter.
'We, her parents, idolised her so much,' she said. 'She brought so much joy and happiness. She was our wealth, our lives, our joy, and our hearts. We could not believe that she belonged to us. She was just so beautiful.'
'Our lives will be so empty without her. She will be missed so much. She was the light in her daddy and mammy and brothers' world. That light has gone now, but her star will keep on shining,' she added.
Lucy was sent home early from school on Friday with a temperature, but she had well recovered before her party in Gorey with all her friends. She went to bed without a temperature that night. She wasn't lethargic, was eating well, and there were no warning signs.
People attending the Mass of the Angels in Camolin today at 11 a.m. have been asked to wear something purple, as it was Lucy's favourite colour. 'She made her own birthday cake on which she wanted Dora and purple butterflies, and stars and hearts,' said Catherine. 'Lucy loved her style, especially her ballgown. Her favourite shop was TK Maxx.'
'When she had to get glasses, she said she and her mam were twins. When we brought her to pick them out, she cried because she couldn't bring them home that day and of course they were purple,' said Catherine.
Lucy loved to sing and dance and put on her little shows for her family. She loved her 'Baba', an Eeyore teddy from Winnie the Pooh, which she had from a baby, and she called it her son.
Her brothers were devoted to her. 'Seán told her she was never allowed to have a boyfriend,' said Catherine. 'Eamonn looked after her in school. When he wanted to play, he would ask one of the girls to look after her. She loved them so much. They were the best big brothers any girl could have. They even picked her name. They wanted a sister so bad. She was their world.'
'She made everybody smile when they saw her,' she said. 'She was only ever away from us for two nights. We never let her out of our sight.' Lucy was in junior infants at Camolin National School, having attended Eleanor Hawkins Playschool in Ferns previously. 'She got a homework heroes badge last week for best reader in her class,' said Catherine. 'We had to put the badge on her schoolbag.'
Lucy also helped lead St Kevin's Marching Band down Gorey's Main Street in this year's St Patrick's Day Parade, with the band leader, as she loved the tin whistle.
Prayers will be said in Murphy's Funeral Home, Gorey, this morning from 10 a.m. with removal afterwards to Camolin Church for Mass of the Angels at 11 a.m. Gifts which will be brought to the altar today will include one of her hats, a handbag, a dress, a jewellery box, Lelli Kelly shoes, her vanity case, a skipping rope, a tin whistle and a book.
Lucy will be laid to rest in the adjoining graveyard, just over the wall from the family home.
The family have thanked the ambulance personnel, the gardaí, Fr Kavanagh, neighbours, Aidan Murphy, and all in the community for their love and support over the past few days.