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Sunday 25 February 2018

Niamh is laid to rest as the search continues for her soulmate Barry

Niamh O'Connor's parents Paul and Catherine and her sister watch as Niamh's remains are carried from The Sacred Heart Church, Glounthaune, Co Cork, yesterday. Photo: Michael MacSweeney
Niamh O'Connor's parents Paul and Catherine and her sister watch as Niamh's remains are carried from The Sacred Heart Church, Glounthaune, Co Cork, yesterday. Photo: Michael MacSweeney

Olivia Kelleher in Cork

A young couple who died in a freak accident in west Cork earlier this week were "soulmates" who radiated happiness when they were together, the requiem Mass of one of the victims heard yesterday.

Niamh O'Connor from Glanmire in Cork, who was just 20, was swept out to sea by a freak wave in Baltimore on Tuesday evening.

Her boyfriend, Barry Davis Ryan, and his father, Barry Ryan, died as they made valiant efforts to save her.

Yesterday at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Glounthaune, in Co Cork, Paul O'Connor, father of Niamh, remembered his outgoing, vibrant daughter.

"From the moment she was born, we used to say that Niamh was going to turn out to be a stunner. She was beautiful inside and out. Niamh lived her short life to the full, refusing no invitation to party. I honestly believe my Niamh would go to the opening of an envelope."

Mr O'Connor said it was very evident that Barry was the "love of Niamh's life".

"He idolised her and she idolised him. He was her soulmate. Niamh, we love you, and as the song states 'this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you'. We love you always and forever."

Among the offertory gifts at the funeral service was a silk rose which Barry gave Niamh to celebrate St Valentine's Day.

Chief celebrant, Fr John Heinhold, said Niamh would now have the silk rose forever.

He recounted that Barry had presented it to her on February 14 last, after the UCC student joked about fresh roses only lasting two weeks.

Other offertory gifts included a menu for KC's takeaway in Douglas on the south side of Cork city. Fr Heinhold told the hundreds of mourners that although Niamh didn't drive, she often got her fast food of choice delivered by taxi.

Other offertory gifts included Niamh's favourite sweets ,Polo Mints, and a Harry Potter book.

Fr Heinhold said Niamh's parents, Paul and Catherine, and her sister Clodagh had been plunged into darkness following the news of her tragic passing.

"Last Tuesday was just another day. All seemed normal. Life was carrying out just as it should be. Then, out of the blue, in an instant, everything changed forever. The lives of three people ended. Niamh was 20 years old and full of life. Beautiful, intelligent and so full of potential. She was just beginning to open up to life, and life was just beginning to open up for her."

Fr Heinhold said tragic death, which is sudden and unexpected, is like a blackout. "One minute, the sun is shining. Next minute, it is dark night. Without the slightest warning, we are plunged into an impenetrable darkness. The world is turned upside down. We felt, and feel, lost."

Prior to the 10am requiem Mass, one of Niamh's favourite songs Wings by Birdy was played. Her cousin Louise also read a poem recalling all her happy childhood members with the "calm and chilled" Niamh. In the poem she touched on the great love between Barry and Niamh.

"We must all remember Barry, Niamh's true gent

Barry became the apple of Niamh's eye

They clicked and were far from shy

So in love, a lovely girl and guy."

Niamh was laid to rest at St Catherine's Cemetery in Kilcully, Co Cork. A guard of honour was provided by staff at Penneys, where Niamh worked part time.

Meanwhile, the search continues for Barry Davis Ryan, the CIT student who is still missing. Around 60 people are involved in the search, including many local volunteers, naval, garda and volunteer divers, the Coast Guard, cliff top search teams, the Coast Guard helicopter and RNLI lifeboats.

Sunday Independent

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