Monday 16 September 2019

'She will inspire others to turn tragedy into promise' - Mourners hear at funeral of Zoe (3)

Zoe and her mother Emer Cannon
Zoe and her mother Emer Cannon
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

The three-year-old girl who died after an incident at her home in Shankill has helped others live through organ donation, her funeral has heard.

Zoe Whitford died in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin last Tuesday where she was being treated after emergency services were called to her home at Aubrey Grove on Saturday February 10.

Her mother, Emer Cannon (42), has been charged with causing serious harm to Zoe and is currently remanded in custody.

There were heartbreaking scenes at the funeral in St Anne’s Church in Shankill today as Zoe’s small white coffin was carried to the altar to the Eric Clapton song ‘Tears In Heaven’ sung by a soloist.

Before requiem mass, Zoe’s father William addressed mourners from the altar.

In his eulogy, he had special mention for Emer.

“Zoe wants you to know how great a mother Emer is. Emer is completely loving and caring and completely devoted to her children,” he said.

“Everybody who knows her knows that today is a consequence of post natal depression fuelled by incessant internet and social media.

“Zoe's wish is that Emer be treated with love and compassion,” he added.

“Her wish was that everybody know how happy her short life was. She loved going to montessori.

“She loved to play with sand and water, and paint and glue. She loved imagining that she was part of the world of her favourite cartoon characters. But most of all Zoe loved her family. Her first thoughts on waking every morning, was for her brother Max. She got so excited at the promise of a visit from her cousin Jennifer,” said William.

He added that Zoe would also want to show her gratitude to all those who assisted in her care.

“The ambulance crew who fought so hard to give her a fighting chance. The doctors, nurses and social workers and staff of Our Lady’s Hospital who were so tender and devoted to Zoe’s care,” he said.

This was echoed in the Prayers of the Faithful by RTE’s sports journalist and family friend Des Cahill, who prayed for the emergency services and hospital teams.

William Whitford then spoke of how Zoe’s organs had saved the lives of others.

“One of Zoe’s favourite characters is Nella The Princess Knight. She used to put on her princess dress and imitate Nella’s actions. When the going got tough, Nella would touch her heart and unfold bravery to battle adversity. ‘My heart is bright, it’s time to reach its destination’ was her catchphrase. Today, Zoe’s heart is bright, but in somebody else’s body,” he said.

“Zoe’s wish is that her example will inspire others to turn tragedy into promise,” he added.

During the Prayers of the Faithful the recipients of Zoe’s organs were also prayed for.

Gifts brought to the altar to represent Zoe’s life included her favourite princess dress, drawings she had made of her and her family, and one of her baby brother Max’s favourite toys.

Also among the chief mourners were Zoe’s grandparents Elizabeth Whitford and Patrick and Margaret Cannon.

After the funeral mass, William helped to carry Zoe’s coffin from the church to the song Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

Her remains were brought to Shanganagh Cemetery for burial.

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