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Priest tells of invite from nun on day of drowning

The death of Sr Paula Buckley in a double drowning tragedy left two families in mourning, those gathered at her funeral Mass were told.

"She belonged to two communities," Fr Joe Egan told hundreds of mourners in Cashel, Co Tipperary.

"Her own blood family and the Presentation family are both in mourning today and we sincerely sympathise with you."

Fr Egan said that, on the day of Sr Paula's death last week, he had received an invitation from her to an event due to take place next month celebrating 50 years since she joined the Presentation Order.

"It wasn't to be," he said.

Mourners at yesterday's funeral Mass included Sr Paula's sister, Marie and brother-in-law John, as well as her nieces, nephews, friends, colleagues and neighbours.

Her niece, Deirdre, thanked all who had offered support and love over the last few days.

"Auntie Paula had a huge impression on our lives," she told the congregation at the Church of St John the Baptist.

"She was an avid hurling fan. None of us were surprised by our win over Cork last Sunday, given our support from above."

Her friend and colleague Sr Mary Brennan spoke of the happy memories and the sad events.

"We have no full understanding of why we are here together," she said of the funeral, "except we know Paula's final journey will take place today."

Among the symbols brought to the altar at the beginning of the Mass were Sr Paula's bible; a lantern; two family photographs; water from the river Suir; a head of cabbage which she herself planted earlier in the year where she lived at Kilmahuddrick in Clondalkin; and a pair of blue and gold wellington boots given to her on her birthday.

The symbols had already been chosen by Sr Paula herself for the 50th jubilee Mass.

Sr Marguerite Ryan, representing the Province of Presentation Sisters, said the last few days since the tragic events in Kerry had been "an extraordinary experience" for all who knew Sr Paula.

"Overwhelmed as we were by the double tragedy, we were even more overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayers and sympathy that have flowed from all over Ireland. People have been moved by this tragedy."