Coffin of tragic new mum killed in horrific car crash draped in jersey signed by All Ireland champions Tipperary
The coffin of mum-of-one Nicola Kenny - who was killed in a horrific road crash last Monday, as she made her way to visit her newborn baby who had fallen ill in hospital - was draped with a signed Tipperary hurling jersey at her removal on Wednesday evening, in a poignant tribute from the newly-crowned All Ireland hurling champions.
Nicola, a grandchild of the former Tipp marksman, Paddy Kenny, who won three All-Ireland's in a row (1949-1951), had been sitting in her aunt's car, which had pulled into the hard shoulder of the M8 near Cashel when a truck collided with the vehicle from behind.
Nicola, (26), along with her mother Ann, and aunt Irene Whelan, had been on their way to Temple Street Children's Hospital, Dublin, to visit Nicola's newborn baby who had been rushed from South Tipperary Hospital to Temple Street the previous day following her birth.
Moments before the fatal crash, Nicola had informed her mother and aunt that they could return home to Thurles after she had taken a phone call from doctors informing her that her baby, Lilly-Rose, was being transferred back to South Tipperary after her condition had improved.
There were incredibly poignant scenes at Hugh Ryan's funeral home, Thurles, as Tipperary corner back Mickey Cahill presented the Kenny family with a jersey signed by the Tipp team which was then draped over Ms Kenny's coffin.
Hundreds of people attended the removal to the Cathedral of the Assumption, Thurles, led by Nicola's father Patrick, and her only sibling, brother Patrick jnr.
Nicola's devastated mother Ann was too traumatised from Monday's collision to attend. Nicola's aunt was also prevented from attending, as she was still being treated in hospital for injuries she sustained in the crash.
As the hearse carrying Nicola's remains made the sad journey to the church, it stopped for a few brief moments outside the local Tesco store where Nicola's workmates performed a guard of honour.
"Over the last couple of days we've all been caught up in the darkness of what has happened and the loss of Nicola has affected everybody here in different ways - be it pain, shock, numbness or confusion, and anger and disbelief at what has happened," Rev Vincent Stapleton, C.C, Thurles, told mourners.
"All these things are very natural responses to this tragedy."
Rev Stapleton told Nicola's heartbroken family the centre community was "crying out" with them "in the face of this undeserved pain and loss".
Work colleagues are expected to set up a trust fund for little Lilly-Rose, said local Fianna Fail TD and family friend Jackie Cahill.
"It's extremely sad," he said.
"Paudie Maher (Tipperary wing back) he said to me that when the team got the news on Monday night that it was just a bolt out of the blue for them all. It was a perfect day the day before. It brought them back to earth, that someone whose brother they would be familiar with met their end in that way on Monday morning," Mr Cahill added.
Nicola's family requested that any donations be made to Clonmel Hospital Baby Unit.
Ms Kenny will be laid to rest later tomorrow following 11 o'clock requiem mass in the Cathedral of the Assumption, Thurles, with burial afterwards in St Patrick's Cemetery, Thurles.