'You held her hand, talked to her ... we are eternally grateful' - tragic student's sister pays tribute to classmates who were with her when she died
The sister of a student who collapsed and died suddenly on one of her last days in college has thanked those who held the 22-year-old's hand in her final moments.
Noelle Hogan was speaking at the funeral mass of her younger sister Rachael, a fourth-year business student who died suddenly while giving a presentation on her final-year project at the Kemmy Business School in the University of Limerick, last Thursday.
In a remarkable display of selflessness, Noelle told her sister's friends at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Milford, Limerick, that her family was thinking of them as they prepare for their final exams.
"To those who were with Rachael when she passed, we are eternally grateful," she told the mourners.
"No words will ever express what we feel for you. . . You held her hand, talked to her and gave her more medical help than we could have.
"We want to say a special message to the students who were in college with Rachael, especially those who were with her last Thursday. We want you to know we are thinking of you all.
"We all know Rachael would not want any of you back here repeating exams in August. We are sure she will give you the strength to carry on and get through the last few days in college.
"Stick together and you will push through to the finish line – that's what Rachael would have wanted and that's what we want for ye," she added.
In his homily, UL chaplain Fr John Campion said Rachael had a bright smile which endeared her to so many and paid tribute to the young woman who used her gifts to bring life and laughter to so many people's lives. Hundreds of mourners packed the church where the 22-year-old was christened and which is nestled in a corner of the UL campus where she later went on to study. Mourners were led by Rachael's father Michael and Anne and older sisters Noelle and Sarah.
Among those present were UL president Don Barry, staff members and friends from UL, and Rachael's former school friends from Castletroy College and Milford National School.