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Saturday 18 November 2017

Heartbreak as crash sisters buried in each other’s arms

A message of condolence at the scene on the N17 Tuam Road in Galway where two-year-old Kate Gilmore and her 12-week-old sister, Grace were killed on Sunday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday October 24, 2012. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A message of condolence at the scene on the N17 Tuam Road in Galway where two-year-old Kate Gilmore and her 12-week-old sister, Grace were killed on Sunday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday October 24, 2012. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Mourners at the funeral mass for the Gilmore Children. Photo: Ray Cullen
Mourners at the funeral mass for the Gilmore Children. Photo: Ray Cullen
Mourners at the funeral mass for the Gilmore Children. Photo: Ray Cullen

Clodagh Sheehy

THERE were poignant scenes as tragic crash victim sisters Kate and Grace Gilmore were laid to rest in the same coffin today.

In a moving mass, Tom Gilmore, a relative of the family, read a poem.

The poem’s final verse stated, poignantly: “Daddy, please don’t look so sad. Mammy, don’t you cry.

“I’m in the arms of Jesus, as he sings a lullaby.”

After the poem was read out, the congregation gave a loud round of applause.

As the requiem mass came to a close, the musicians played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for the girls, who died last Sunday while out for an afternoon walk with their dad.

The two girls lay nestled in each other’s arms in a joint coffin as the Galway village of Belclare paid its respects and offered sympathy and support to their grieving parents Michelle and John Gilmore.

About 20 minutes before the mass began at noon today, John and Michelle were taken to the church grounds.

The funeral cortege of three blacked-out cars also carried the remains of two-year-old Kate and 12-week-old Grace.

The family were taken through a side entrance to their place in front of the altar in the Church of the Sacred Heart for a special and moving Mass of the Angels.

In his homily, the chief celebrant, Canon Michael Gleeson, said the whole community has been shattered by Sunday’s tragedy.

If that was what the community was feeling, “we can only guess at the grief and sorrow of John and Michelle”, he said.

These were parents who had put their children to bed on Saturday night and into their coffin on Sunday. The only thing people could be sure of, Fr Gleeson added, was that Kate and Grace were now saints in Heaven and safe in the embrace of Jesus.

A steady stream of mourners with armfuls of flowers filed into the church hours before today’s heartbreaking funeral.

It was the church in their mother Michelle Gilmore’s home village where she and her husband John wed just four years ago.

A small teddy lay nestled in the huge spray of colourful flowers at the door, symbolic of the ages of the two little sisters.

From early morning, marshals policed traffic around the village and the church, guiding close family and relatives to reserved spaces.

Dozens of books of condolence on tables outside the church quickly filled as people gathered.

The mass was relayed by loudspeaker to the hundreds who could not gain access to the packed church and who stood outside in the cold.

Fr Gleeson comforted friends and relatives as they waited for the Gilmore family to arrive.

Mourners hardly spoke as they walked towards the church, stunned into silence by the unbelievable horror of last Sunday’s crash.

The two sisters shared a single coffin when they were buried in nearby Killower Cemetery.

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