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First Communion tragedy: Dad will never get to ‘give her away’

A FATHER wept yesterday as he told mourners at his daughter's funeral he would never get the chance to give her away on her wedding day.

Amy Byrne, who died in a freak accident involving a bouncy castle, was laid to rest yesterday following a funeral service in the same church where she had made her communion on Saturday.

The eight-year-old, dressed in her communion dress, was carried in a small white coffin to St Gobnait's Church, in west Waterford, shortly before 11am.

Her father Paul told the packed church of the enjoyment Amy got from life and the sense of fun and friendliness she brought everywhere.

He recalled how she was recently looking at photographs of her uncle's wedding when it was put to her the next time her father would be making a speech it would be at her own wedding, when he would be giving her away.

Her dad told her at the time: "I'd never give you away."

"But today I get to make that speech," he said yesterday.

Recently, when asked by her family how she got on at her First Penance ceremony with her classmates, she said: "Will you say a prayer for me that Fr Kennedy won't tell anyone my sins?"

As the congregation laughed at her innocence, her father added: "Sure, what sins had she?"

The mourners were led by her parents Paul and Lorraine, and siblings Thomas and Michael. Items brought to the altar at the Mass included a Roald Dahl book, colouring pencils, a piece of her artwork, a Brownie's neckerchief, dancing shoes and a sports top.

Eddie O'Halloran, the school principal at Scoil Naomh Gobnait in Coolnasmear, about five miles from Dungarvan, brought a montage of last Saturday's first holy communion day. Amy died while playing on a bouncy castle later that evening in her family's garden.

Instead of delivering a homily, Fr Michael Kennedy invited those present to observe a few moments of silence -- in accordance with the family's wishes -- and reflect on Amy's life.

Irish Independent