Tuesday 20 March 2018

Two nuns who died in beach tragedy were 'inspirational leaders'

The scene at Inch Strand in Co Kerry just 24 hours after two nuns drowned. Photo: Don MacMonagle
The scene at Inch Strand in Co Kerry just 24 hours after two nuns drowned. Photo: Don MacMonagle
Sister Imelda Carew
Sister Paula Buckley

and Anne Lucey

TWO nuns who died after getting into difficulty while swimming on a Kerry beach during a late summer holiday have been remembered as wonderful women who have been an inspiration and blessing to many people.

Sister Imelda Carew (67) and Sister Paula Buckley (70), who were both from Co Tipperary, were regarded as among the leaders of the Presentation order in this country.

They died after getting into difficulty at Inch beach near the village of Annascaul in Kerry on Thursday.

The two sisters had gone for an evening swim and a third woman who was with them raised the alarm after they appeared to be in difficulties.

"It's a huge blow to the Order," a senior figure in Presentation education said yesterday. "Even though they were aged in their 60s and 70s, they would have been seen as young nuns. It's very sad and a big blow."

Sr Imelda was a native of Kilmore, near Dundrum, Co Tipperary and is survived by a wide extended family.

For many years she taught in schools in the South East of the country and was very active in the justice ministry throughout Ireland and worldwide.

"For the past number of years she has served in the ministry of leadership in the Congregation and was until her untimely death the leader of the South East Province Ireland," said a spokesperson for the order.

Sr Paula was a native of Camas, near Cashel in Tipperary. She was due to celebrate 50 years of religious life tomorrow, and had plans to mark this event with family, sisters and friends early in September. She is survived by her sister Marie, brother-in-law, nephews and nieces.

For the past couple of years she has been involved in Prison ministry in Dublin.

"For many years Sr Paula was involved in teaching and career guidance in secondary schools throughout the South East Province," said the spokesperson.

The third woman who was with them had stood watching her companions from the shore line waiting for them to emerge from the water.

The two nuns in the water had been standing up a short time before, not far from the strand. They'd waved back at their companion.

But suddenly the woman on the shore could no longer see them and she alerted the lifeguards whose station was near the spot where the nuns apparently got into difficulties.

The lifeguards, summer staff employed by the council, who were coming off duty at the time were able to wade in and pull the ladies from the water. It is understood they did not have to swim to reach them.

Coast Guard teams, including a helicopter, were then scrambled to the scene shortly after 7pm on Thursday.

The nuns were brought ashore where CPR was performed. They were airlifted to hospital in Tralee but later pronounced dead.

A Kerry County Council spokesman said there were no currents, it was close to high tide and the evening was calm.

Killorglin woman Margaret Wrenn who was on the beach told how between six and eight young people worked constantly on the two women and they were visibly upset afterwards.

Sr Imelda's funeral will take place tomorrow at 3pm in Mountmellick Parish Church followed by burial at Mountmellick Cemetery.

Sr Paula's funeral will be in Cashel Parish Church at noon on Tuesday next, followed by burial in Ardmayle Cemetery.

Irish Independent

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