Sunday 22 July 2018

Elisha's mother: I will carry her out of the world having lovingly carried her in

Elisha Gault
Elisha Gault
Flower tributes to Elisha Gault on Dillon Bridge over the River Suir at Carrick-on-Suir yesterday. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
River Rescue and Civil Defence search for Elisha Gault on the river in Carrick-on-Suir last week
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THE mother of tragic Tipperary teen Elisha Gault (14) heartbreakingly vowed that she will carry her late daughter out of the world having lovingly carried her into the world.

White flowers will also be dropped into the River Suir when the funeral cortege reaches Dillon Bridge in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary - the last place where Elisha was spotted.

Elisha's mother, Grainne, said she now had "a hole in my heart that will never be filled" as she confirmed that her 14 year old daughter will be buried buried after Requiem Mass in her former home village of Piltown in Kilkenny on Thursday.

Elisha, whose body was recovered from the River Suir on Sunday after she had been missing for eight days, will be buried after Requiem Mass at 11am on Thursday from the Church of the Assumption in Piltown.

Flower tributes to Elisha Gault on Dillon Bridge over the River Suir at Carrick-on-Suir yesterday. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Flower tributes to Elisha Gault on Dillon Bridge over the River Suir at Carrick-on-Suir yesterday. Photo: Colin O’Riordan

She will rest in repose at her residence at New Street, Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary from 12 noon tomorrow (Wednesday) until she is removed to Piltown church at 10am on Thursday.

After Mass, the teen will be buried in the adjoining cemetery.

River Rescue and Civil Defence search for Elisha Gault on the river in Carrick-on-Suir
last week
River Rescue and Civil Defence search for Elisha Gault on the river in Carrick-on-Suir last week

Her heartbroken family has asked that, instead of flowers, mourners make a donation to Carrick-on-Suir River Rescue or the Edge Youth Centre of which she was a proud member.

Elisha's mother, Grainne, said they were totally devastated by how the eight day search for the teen had ended.

"It is with great sadness that I find myself in the worst position in my life as I announce the arrangements of my baby girl," she said.

"My gorgeous, beautiful Elisha had a genuine soul but she was a troubled girl for reasons I won't discuss at this moment in time."

The search for Elisha Gault in the River Suir. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
The search for Elisha Gault in the River Suir. Photo: Dylan Vaughan

"She had a very loving family, friends and Edge Youth Club who (had) done their utmost to heal and support her but unfortunately we were not successful."

Grainne issued a Facebook plea for greater support for mental health services in Ireland.

"Mental health is a serious and desperate issue that has gripped not only our country but it is an epidemic all over the world."

"We need to learn a better way, we need compassion and understanding, we need to let go of the negativity and fill our hearts with love and laughter."

In a moving plea, Grainne asked people not to respond to any negativity in commentary they may come across.

"Do not respond, react or let any negative energy flow on the back of them," she said.

"We also walk among children, teenagers and adults alike who are broken inside - they need our sympathy not our reactions."

Grainne said her family were overwhelmed by the incredible support they had received - particularly from search volunteers since Elisha vanished on St Patrick's Day.

"I have a hole in my heart that will never be filled - she (Elisha) was her own person and I just wish we had the answer that could have gave her inner strength."

Grainne vowed to make Elisha's funeral special.

"We will carry our baby girl - I carried her into the world and I will carry her out again," she promised.

"We will make our way up to Dillon Bridge where we will take a moment to pause and reflect and anyone who likes can throw a white flower off the bridge into the river."

"We want you all to celebrate her laugh - we want laughter and music because she so loved her tunes."

"(Elisha) always wanted to make everyone happy with her messing so I want to end the day in that spirit - I want the presence of Elisha, our wee Egg, to be felt in the most positive way possible."

Following Elisha's burial, a special celebration of her life will be held in the Swan Club in Carrick-on-Suir.

Grainne also paid an emotional tribute to the search volunteers who helped locate the remains of Elisha after a massive search operation.

Gráinne had used social media for eight days in a desperate bid to focus public attention on locating her missing daughter and bringing her home safe and well.

Tragically, Elisha's body was recovered from the River Suir by the Waterford-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter, Rescue Rescue 117, around 7pm on Sunday evening.

The teen, who vanished on St Patrick's Day, was found some 8km downstream of Carrick-on-Suir at a stretch of river known as Killowen and which divides Waterford and Kilkenny between Fiddown and Mooncoin.

Gráinne posted a special photo of Elisha on her Facebook page and entitled it: "My beautiful, funny, intelligent baby."

In her social media post, Grainne admitted her entire family had been left heartbroken by how the search ended.

Elisha's school, Comeragh College, opened in Carrick-on-Suir despite the Easter holidays so that shocked students and parents could receive support and counselling over the tragedy.

Comeragh College Principal Kevin Langton described Elisha's death as "a terrible tragedy."

"We are deeply saddened. Our sympathy and thoughts are with Elisha's family and friends," he said.

"Elisha was a third year student with us and will be greatly missed by all who knew her."

"We have been in contact with her parents and they have requested that we all understand their need for privacy at this difficult time."

"Offers of support have been pouring in and are greatly appreciated."

"Our school has implemented our critical incident management plan - psychologists from the National Education Psychological Service (NEPS) have been in contact with us today to support and advise teachers in their efforts to assist our students at this time."

"Our teachers have been helping students to deal with the tragic event - the school has been open to students and parents to support them and to offer them advice and guidance."

Elisha was positively identified at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) shortly after her body was recovered from the River Suir.

The Office of the State Pathologist was notified and a full post mortem examination was scheduled to be conducted.

Elisha's remains have now been released back to her family.

Gardaí are currently liaising with Elisha's parents, Gráinne and Cameron, and her extended family who have supported a massive search operation for her over the past eight days.

The incident is being treated as a tragedy.

The devastated Gault family are now being comforted by friends and neighbours.

Elisha's discovery came just hours after her heartbroken family had pleaded with the public to contact Gardaí if they spotted anything unusual, no matter how trivial, as they marked one week since her disappearance.

Elisha's heartbroken parents, Gráinne and Cameron, were supported by family, neighbours and friends as they marked one week since the teen disappeared on St Patrick's Day.

Elisha left her home at New Street in Carrick-on-Suir between 9pm and 10pm on St Patrick's Day.

She was last spotted on Dillon Bridge, not far from her home, around 10.10pm.

Elisha was alone when last seen on CCTV camera footage.

The teen had left home without a coat and without her mobile phone.

She did not have much cash with her.

Search volunteers had for a week combed the fast-flowing River Suir with divers conducting finger-tip searches of the riverbed and riverbanks just below the town.

Last weekend, searches were assisted by the deployment of special side-scan sonar to examine the river bed downstream of the Tipperary town.

The special sonar device, which resembles a torpedo, can be used to examine specific stretches of the river bed as well as underwater channels and holes.

The main search focused over the past week on a 1km stretch of the River Suir downstream from Dillon Bridge.

However, over recent days the search had extended to a more challenging search area between 2km and 5km downstream of the town.

Carrick-on-Suir River Rescue were supported by the Civil Defence and the specialist Garda Water Unit which deployed its operational unit on the town quays.

The search has also been supported by volunteer search units from Clonmel, Waterford and Nenagh.

Divers were supported by Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBS) which shuttled up and down the River Suit all day between search zones.

Gráinne, who works in a beauty salon in Carrick-on-Suir, had posted daily social media updates on the search for her daughter.

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