A BEAUTIFUL young mother, full of the joys of a life that was all ahead of her - that is how Natasha Donovan who died tragically last week will be forever remembered by her family.
Best friend Geraldine O'Regan's cherished photograph of Natasha, taken on a night out in town some years ago, presents the young mom as she really was in life: bubbly, loving and a joy to all her family and her many friends.
"She was born on May 12, so she only celebrated her 26th birthday recently. She meant everything to us," mom Caroline recalled on Monday night at the family home in Ballyrickard Court, Tralee. The home is the focus of an entire community at the moment, as so many have rallied to her family's side to help them through this harrowing time.
Caroline and family member Mikey Pa recalled Natasha's first years at her previous home in Mitchel's Crescent, Tralee, as having been full of fun. Natasha was the grand-daughter of the legendary All-Ireland champion handballer Rattler Donovan; one of the many adults who doted on her from the very start of her life.
"Every door was open and it was a very close community back then," Mikey Pa said. "Natasha was loved by everyone and she was extremely close to her father Thomas Hallissey."
Caroline recalled the bond Thomas and Natasha shared. "It was a bond no one could break, they were so close. They idolised each other and she was able for him, but she always listened to him and respected him and they had great fun together."
One of the most striking things that emerged about her personality in childhood was a love for animals, a love that would remain constant all her tragically-short life.
"She was mad about horses always and was surrounded by them from childhood," Mikey Pa said. Caroline remembered Natasha showing extraordinary compassion to a family pet once, in an act that was indicative of her love for all creatures. "Natasha slept in the shed with one of our dogs when it went into labour one night. She had to be there for it, she loved animals that much," Caroline recalled.
"She just had a great heart," Caroline said.
In later years as she blossomed into a beautiful young woman. motherhood was to become all important to her. Her son Steven came into the world five years ago, followed a year later by Tadhg.
Caroline's sister Mary - who was incredibly close to Natasha all her life - said there wasn't anything she wouldn't do for her young boys. "She always made sure they were safe and looked after, even if she was going out with Geraldine she would only leave them with her mom. Her boys meant everything to her."
Natasha's boyfriend Roger O'Connor was not far from the Donovans' heart on Monday night. "He is just devastated too," they said.
As with everyone she came into contact with in life, Natasha attracted people through her positivity and beauty. "She was like a model," Mary said. "She was simply stunning and she took great pride in her appearance, always with the latest fashions. She kept her place immaculately as well, the undertakers even commented on it, they said they had never seen anything like it. Her place was pristine and she had all her clothes perfect, even her t-shirts were folded to perfection, with her shoes all lined up in a neat row," Mary said.
"It's just such a tragedy, we miss Natasha so much," she added.