Sunday 18 November 2018

'She wanted to hold up a mirror' - Emma Mhic Mhathúna's funeral to pass by Leinster House and Dept of Health

  • Second of two funerals on Wednesday
  • 'Her love... will live with me forever' - Her five children prominent in moving service today
  • Mother of five died on Sunday
  • She received incorrect smear test results in 2013
  • 'Her courage, her faith, her dignity and her resilience are an inspiration'
The coffin of Emma Mhic Mhathúna is brought to Séipéal na Carraige church for her funeral Mass.
Pic:Mark Condren
The coffin of Emma Mhic Mhathúna is brought to Séipéal na Carraige church for her funeral Mass. Pic:Mark Condren
The coffin of Emma Mhic Mhathúna is brought to Séipéal na Carraige church for her funeral Mass. Pic:Mark Condren
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

The remains of CervicalCheck campaigner Emma Mhic Mhathuna will pass by Leinster House and Government Buildings to "hold a mirror up to the organisations and agencies that they preside over politically and practically," her family has said.

The 37-year-old mother-of-five passed away on Sunday morning from cervical cancer, she was diagnosed in 2016 after receiving two incorrect smear test results.

She was one of 221 women with cervical cancer found to have received incorrect results during a clinical audit of past test results by the CervicalCheck screening programme.

Her family said in a statement this evening that before she passed away she requested that her remains should pass by Leinster House at Kildare Street, Government Buildings on Merrion Street and Department of Health on Baggot Street.

They explained: "The purpose of this route is not to protest. It is a final and departing effort to encourage those within to hold a mirror up to the organisations and agencies that they preside over politically and practically.

"Moreover, it is a request to those organisations and agencies to commit to ensure that Emma's tragic situation will never happen to another Irish mother or Irish woman again.

Emma Mhic Mhathúna. Photo: Collins
Emma Mhic Mhathúna. Photo: Collins

"Whilst Emma was at odds with institutions and the agencies her decision to pass by them should not be interpreted as a personal criticism of any one individual but rather the institutions within."

They continued to say that "the final part of Emma's journey will be to Aras an Uchtrain as a mark of her personal appreciation to President Michael D Higgins."

Funeral held for CervicalCheck campaigner Emma Mhic Mhathuna twitter 1

The first of two funeral services was held for Mhic Mhathuna this morning.

There were moving scenes during the Requiem Mass at Seipeal na Carraige at Baile na nGall in the west Kerry Gaeltacht.

As a gesture of support with Emma and the other 200 women hit by the CervicalCheck scandal, many women attending the Requiem Mass today opted to wear bright red coats and outfits to show their solidarity - bright red being the colour Emma herself insisted on wearing when she settled her High Court action against the HSE and a US laboratory over her incorrect smear test results.

Her incorrect smear test results were in 2013 - and she was later diagnosed with cancer.

Earlier this year she was informed her cancer had spread and was now terminal.

The coffin of Emma Mhic Mhathúna is brought to Séipéal na Carraige church for her funeral Mass.
Pic:Mark Condren
The coffin of Emma Mhic Mhathúna is brought to Séipéal na Carraige church for her funeral Mass. Pic:Mark Condren

In a gesture specifically requested by Emma, the media were asked to assemble at the entrance to the church and were specially thanked by Emma's uncles, John and Brendan Moran, for the role they played in helping highlight the CervicalCheck scandal and Emma's case.

"Emma wanted to thank you from the bottom of her heart for what you have done to highlight this," they said.

Fr Eoghan O'Cadhla told the packed congregation that Emma's death had shocked the tightknit community where she had lived for the past 18 months with her five children, Natasha, Seamus, Mario, Oisin and Donnacha.

"Her love for her beautiful children will live with me forever," Fr O'Cadhla said.

"Her courage, her faith, her dignity and her resilience are an inspiration to me and all the people who got to know her in Corcha Dhuibhne and far beyond this place."

Fr O'Cadhla also recalled how parishioners had given Emma an impromptu round of applause when she attended Mass in the days after her High Court victory.

"She was delighted - she said it meant so much to her," he said.

The mourners were led by Emma's children with her eldest daughter, Natasha, carrying her younger brother, Donnacha, in her arms into the packed church.

Mourners also included Emma's father, Peter, her uncles John and Brendan, her aunts including Elaine to whom she was particularly close.

Her children took an active role in the Requiem Mass.

Mario delivered the second reading while Natasha, Seamus and Mario also brought Offertory Gifts to the altar to symbolise the loves of Emma's life.

These included the An Ghaeltacht GAA jerseys of Seamus and Mario, bouquets of wild Fuschia which was Emma's favourite flower in west Kerry, a family photo, a bible, a Rosary beads and a painting.

Before her death, Emma had commissioned five miniature busts of herself as special mementos for each of her five children so that they would have unique remembrances of her.

Natasha brought one of the busts to the altar in memory of her mother.

The entire Mass was in Irish which was a language Emma loved deeply.

Some of the music and readings were performed by the classmates of Emma's children.

Her decision to locate in Baile na nGall was underpinned by her desire to support the Irish language studies of her children.

Special guards of honour were provided by An Gaeltacht, Scoil Mhaol Cheadair national school and Colaiste Ide where Natasha once studied.

In a further gesture of solidarity, Emma's remains were given a traditional escort out of Baile na nGall with locals lining the funeral route and walking behind the hearse.

Local musicians and choirs performed throughout the Mass with the accompanists including Coir Corcha Dhuibhne, Padraig O'Gairbhia, Proinsias O'Cathasaigh, Gerry O'Beirne, Eoghan Duignan, Pauline Scanlon and Eilis Kennedy.

The commentary on the Offertory Gifts was performed by Mai Ui Bhruic.

Emma's remains were later brought from the church to a relatives home in Ratoath, Co Meath where it will remain overnight.

Emma will then have a second Requiem Mass at Dublin's ProCathedral at lunchtime tomorrow before she is buried in Maynooth, Co Kildare.

The ProCathedral was chosen because Emma attended an Irish school nearby and regularly attended the ProCathedral to say prayers and light candles for loved ones.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News