Sunday 22 September 2019

'Gentleness and innocence' - tragic Nóra remembered

Grieving: Nóra’s mother Meabh Quoirin arrives for the funeral. Photos: Frank McGrath
Grieving: Nóra’s mother Meabh Quoirin arrives for the funeral. Photos: Frank McGrath
Grieving: Mourners arrive at St Brigid’s Church, Belfast. Photos: Frank McGrath
Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

She was the girl with the wicked sense of humour, who liked to wear funny t-shirts, but most of all, loved cuddles with her Mummy.

Nóra Quoirin, the 15-year-old who died after going missing while on a family holiday in the Malaysian jungle last month, was remembered yesterday for her "gentleness and innocence".

As Fr Edward O'Donnell told hundreds of mourners at her farewell service at St Brigid's Church in Belfast yesterday, the "world was united" with her parents, Meabh and Sebastien, as people around the globe prayed for her safe return.

Tragically that was not to happen. Ten days after vanishing without trace, and following a massive search operation, her body was found near a waterfall, around 2km from the resort where she was staying.

Yesterday, family friend Reverend Ruth Patterson paid a special tribute to "Nóra Bean", or "Noisy Nóra" as she was known to her friends.

Despite facing challenges in her life - Nora was born with a condition which left her with learning disabilities - she never let that stand in her way.

Rev Patterson told mourners while Nóra doted on her baby cousins, her best friends were her sister Innes, and brother Maurice, whom she mischievously called "Captain Fishy-Pants".

"[They] were the most amazing siblings you could ever have and who did everything for her and who often got squashed in return," she said to laughs from the congregation.

"Nóra had a wicked sense of humour and often told jokes from her joke book. She liked to wear funny t-shirts.

"She loved beasts and monsters like the Gruffalo and her pet tropical fish were called things like Butter and Toast, Ketchup, Hot Chocolate and Fishfingers.


"Nóra had a crazy memory. She could tell you almost every capital city in the world, the number of steps up the Eiffel Tower and what she ate on her birthday seven years ago."

It would seem that birthday cakes were a particular favourite for the schoolgirl, who would always make sure to order them well in advance.

One year it was a hedgehog cake, another time a volcano. For her last birthday cake when she turned 15, she plumped for honeycomb brownies.

Rev Patterson recalled how Nóra loved playing on her Kindle and recounted one occasion when her father told her she was spending too much time on it.

Her reply was: "Don't worry Daddy, I'm reading the 'Washington Post'."

The packed church heard how the schoolgirl's favourite place in the world was Donegal where "endless" family walks on Tulla Strand were followed by a welcome Cidona in a local pub.

However her family were undoubtedly her greatest passion.

"But most of all Nóra loved cuddles with her Mummy and getting her night-time story read every night. This was her special time," explained Rev Patterson.

"Nóra knew she was beautiful because you loved her so much," she told the family.

"But she also gifted you with the fact that each of you are beautiful because she loved you so much."

Fr O'Donnell told mourners that while Nóra "depended greatly on others", she also gave others "immeasurable joy", as he remembered her "gentleness and innocence".

"We who grieve for Nóra hold her memory in love, believing all the bonds of love and affection do not unravel with death."

Following the service, Nóra's ashes were buried at Milltown Cemetery.

Irish Independent

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