Thursday 22 February 2018

Family tell of heartbreak as missing teacher found dead

Eimear Noonan
Eimear Noonan

Louise Kelly, Mary McDonnell and Allison Bray

The family of missing teacher Eimear Noonan have confirmed the "heartbreaking news" that the 21-year-old has died in France.

The UCC graduate from Caher, Co Clare, had been missing from her home in the French town of Annonay near Lyon since last Wednesday.

Concerns for her whereabouts were raised when she failed to turn up for work as a teaching assistant in a local school.

Her family had travelled to France to assist in the search for Ms Noonan, while friends and relatives in Ireland appealed for help on social media.

Last night, her brother Cathal took to Facebook to confirm the news that "our beloved Eimear died following a fall while running".

Ms Noonan had been living in Annonay since September where she worked as an English language teacher.

Click to view full size graphic
Click to view full size graphic

Mr Noonan said his sister would be greatly missed by all who knew her, especially her parents Flan and Mary, himself and his two brothers Declan and Michael, and all her family and friends.

"Eimear was a warm, bubbly person who had already made a wide circle of friends there through her love of music and singing," he wrote.

"She graduated last month from UCC with an honours degree in Irish and French, was a talented violinist and to our immense pride was head of UCC orchestra for her final year there."

He said the family "will be forever grateful for the outpouring of love and support we have received in recent days".

"We would like to thank the Irish and French authorities and the people of Annonay for the kindness and compassion they have shown us.

"We now appeal for privacy in this most difficult time as we bring Eimear home to her beloved Lough Graney and start the journey of grieving," he said.

Parish priest for Killanena, Fr Joe McMahon, described Ms Noonan as a "warm, affectionate girl" who "loved France".

"It's awfully sad. It's going to be a long drawn-out thing. I don't know how long matters will take in France.

"She was a lovely girl, a warm, affectionate girl. She was a great fiddle player with a great background in trad music, a lovely singer. She was a very warm person to old and young.

"When I last met her she was playing with the choir in church. She wouldn't be around much but when she was home she would be involved.

"She loved France and the whole family do. They go there a good bit," he added.

A special Mass was held yesterday with prayers being said for Ms Noonan and her family.

Ms Noonan had been working at the Font Chevalier elementary school in Annonay. She had not been seen since last Wednesday, when she was spotted in the village.

She was reported missing by the manager of a guesthouse where she had been living.

The area is renowned for its rolling hills, open moors and craggy landscape and is popular with hikers and joggers. A woman's body, clothed in sportswear, was found near a woodland path in the village on Friday. French police said they were operating on the theory the young woman's death was accidental, possibly from a fall or sudden illness, according to local media reports.

Irish Independent

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