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Family weeps for 'beautiful' author Bree after air tragedy

TRAGIC author Bree O'Mara -- who died on Wednesday in the Libya air disaster -- had maintained close links to her father's home town of Rush, in north Co Dublin.

Family relatives in the town told the Herald she visited the area 10 years ago to scatter the ashes of her late father into the local harbour, in accordance with his dying wishes.

The talented writer (42) was among 103 people who died when an Afriqiyah Airways jet crashed as it tried to land in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Wednesday. She was travelling on an Irish passport.

A nine-year-old Dutch boy, who was returning home from a safari holiday with his family, was the sole survivor.

In Rush, the Hoare family was gathering in grief to pay tribute to the girl they knew as Brigid.

They described her as a "flamboyant, lively, colourful, talented and successful woman".

Brigid's cousin, Mella Hughes, told of the writer's links with Rush and how she came to be in South Africa. Brigid used her mother's maiden name, O'Mara, for her writing, but to all her family in Rush she would be known as Brigid Hoare.

A stone house that used to be owned by Brigid's great-great grandfather is still in the Hoare family, and lies on the outskirts of Rush.

"Brigid's great-great grandfather was Matthew Walsh, and he lived in the stone house with his wife," Mella said.

"Their daughter, Elizabeth, married Thomas Hoare, and then their son Thomas was Brigid's grandfather," she added from her own home a short distance from the stone house.

"Thomas Hoare was a master mariner and ended up in Calcutta as harbourmaster there, and he reared his family out there," Mella said. His two sons, Mike and Benny, were also sea travellers and Benny followed Mike to South Africa and set up home there.


"But Brigid was very proud of her roots and she has visited here over the years," said Mella.

"When her father died she brought his ashes back here. I'll never forget it. There was a mass on a bitterly cold February day, and afterwards were went down to the harbour and she tossed his ashes into sea," Mella remembered.

"Then she threw flowers in after him and saluted at the harbour edge. She was a stunning girl."

Mella's daughter, Helen, being the same age as Brigid, remembered her visits well.

"We played as children, and all children just play away together and have fun, but I always thought growing up that she was very exotic," Helen explained. "And she has left a great legacy with her writing."

Mella summed up her memories of Brigid in a way that seemed to echo her life as well as her death.

"She was like a butterfly, she flitted in, stayed a while, and flitted out again. She was beautiful."

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