Monday 23 October 2017

Tears for beloved daughter who lost her life just hours before first disco

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A TEENAGER died in a tragic snow sledding accident just hours before she was due to attend her first ever Christmas disco.

The father of Aoife Downey (15) yesterday told mourners at his daughter's Requiem Mass that she was like a human dynamo who lived for her family, for sport and for her friends.

Sean Downey struggled not to break down as he told mourners that life for him, his wife, Siobhan, and their two younger daughters, Caoimhe and Eadaoin, would never be the same again after Aoife's tragic death in Cork last Saturday.

Aoife -- a star camogie player with Christ the King secondary school and Douglas GAA camogie club -- sustained horrific head injuries when the homemade sled on which she and three friends were travelling ploughed into a tree.

Aoife was catapulted head-first into the tree. Two of her friends were injured -- one with a fractured pelvis and the other with a badly broken leg.

Chelsea Noonan, one of Aoife's best friends and who is still recovering from her injuries, bravely insisted on attending the Mass yesterday.

Speaking at the Church of the Incarnation in Frankfield, Mr Downey described Aoife as "a miracle baby" who was brimming with energy from the very moment she as born.

"The doctor called her the 'miracle baby'. When we had her she hardly slept at all. All she ever wanted from me was my time -- she never looked or asked for anything else. That was Aoife.

"We tried to go to every match she played. We were so proud of her. Her proudest moment of all was Feile in 2009," he said.

"I pucked every single ball with her. When the match ended I was the first on to the field to congratulate her. It was such a special moment. It was just 'Feile, Feile, Feile' -- that was all we ever spoke about at the time," he said.

Aoife was deeply proud of her family -- and was exceptionally protective of her two younger sisters, always encouraging them with whatever endeavours they undertook.

Mr Downey revealed that the last week had been one of the happiest of Aoife's life -- with the excitement of the 'X Factor' final on TV, her receipt of prized tickets for Rihanna's sold-out concert in Dublin next October, the run-up to Christmas and her planned attendance at her first ever Christmas disco.

Aoife had planned to attend the disco in Garryduff in Cork with some friends on the evening of her death.

Amid emotional scenes, mum Siobhan Downey read out a special prayer entitled 'God's Lent Child'.

Mrs Downey told mourners that Aoife's sister Eadaoin had struggled to understand her older sister's tragic death until she asked her family whether it was because Aoife wanted to celebrate Baby Jesus's birthday with him in heaven.

"She (Eadaoin) came in to Sean and myself last night and she was all excited. She told us: 'I think I know why Aoife has gone to heaven, Mam.' And I say 'why, darling?'

"And she explained that it was because the baby Jesus has his birthday on Saturday. He must have wanted somebody 'mad' there for his party. I hope you have a good party, Aoife," she concluded.

A special guard of honour was provided for Aoife's funeral cortege by both Christ the King school and Douglas GAA club.

The church was specially decorated in green, black and white yesterday to reflect Aoife's abiding love of her local GAA club.

Irish Independent

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