Drogheda and Dingle mourn beautiful lady
‘I see the green Isle of Valencia, I mind the days around Lough Lein ...
The gannets swinging with abandon
As they watch the silver store that comes their way
I also see a ship on the horizon
She is sailing to a country far away
On board are exiles feeling lonely
As they wave a fond farewell to Dingle Bay..’
And so Keady Clifford returned home, amidst the hail and wind of a soft Dingle day for a final farewell to a world that simply adored her.
Born in Drogheda 29 years ago, Keady Clifford packed a lifetime into those tender years, and the crowds that descended on the town that sweeps down to the sea from the mountains above bore immense testament to that.
Thousands upon thousands, the lines of mourners ran from morning till night for three days. When Keady said goodbye, she brought a vast community on her shoulders.
Keady died following a car accident in Cork last Tuesday morning - her vivacious, stunning smile now trapped in time and hearts for eternity. She was the daughter of Archie Clifford from Termonfeckin and Mount St Oliver native Linda (Balfe).
Keady (29) worked as a nurse in Cork University Hospital. Local fire and emergency services were called to the crash scene at Water Rock junction near Midleton, where she lived.
Fire fighters used cutting equipment to remove her from her car and and paramedics attended to her but she was pronounced dead at the scene soon after.
News of the accident was received with great sadness in Dingle where Keady and her family are well known and liked.
Artie is Chairman of the hugely successful Blas Na hEireann Food Awards. They began in 2008 are an integral part of the annual Dingle food festival that brings thousands to the town.
Artie moved to Dingle in 1989 as a commercial fisherman on board the MV Shannon and spent a year travelling up and down. When Linda saw the place, she fell in love with it and the family moved to the West Kerry town. Last week saw the very essence of community spring forth from a winter sleep. B&Bs and hotels opened - and people were accommodated for free - such is the esteem in which the family are held.
Young faces stood in shock and surrounded a lonely coffin and thought of brighter days. Stories were told of Keady's energy, drive and passion, her love of paediatric nursing, her love of life and people.
From the very depths of his being, Artie Clifford delivered the eulogy, his heart, his soul, his girl, celebrated amidst tears and smiles, just as she would have wanted.
In a tribute, the organisers of the Blas festival said: 'The Blas family is absolutely devastated by the loss of Keady Clifford, beloved daughter of Artie and Linda, partner of Sean, sister of Fallon and Rachel, sister-in-law to Mike and aunt to Anna.
'Keady was a unique individual, beautiful on the inside and out, and her warm captivating smile and vivacious personality brought much laughter and an amazing energy to the Blas family. There are no words to describe how much she will be missed.'
Keady was also a basketball player, lining out with Glanmire. They were equally saddened.
'Unfortunately we have been told of the passing of our friend Keady Clifford. Keady played with Glanmire for a number of years while studying and working in Cork. Keady was dedicated, lovable and adored by friends, coaches and players and will be truly missed.'
Keady is survived by her loving parents Artie and Linda, her soulmate and partner Seán, sisters Rachel and Fallon, niece Anna Rose, brother-in-law Mike, grandmother Nella (Balfe), aunts, uncles and cousins as well as the Harrigan and Westcott families, her colleagues at CUH and all her friends.
Her funeral mass was last Saturday to St. Mary's Church, Dingle followed by burial in St. Brendan's Cemetery, Dingle.