AROUND 50 mourners crammed into the tiny garden of tragic schoolgirl Michaela Davis' home last night to say goodbye to a much-loved young girl.
The semi-detached house in The Village, Porterstown, was thronged with family, friends and local residents who one by one made the short walk up the drive to pray, cry and try to make sense of a senseless death.
Earlier in the evening, the sleepy housing estate could have been any residential area in the country. Kids played on bikes and scooters and children chased each other on the green outside the Davis's house in the last rays of sunshine -- as Michaela no doubt used to do.
Occasionally the evening calm was broken by the sound of the level crossing signal from the nearby railway -- an eerie reminder that beyond the tree- lined border of the housing estate lies the railway, canal and dense overgrowth where the young girl's body was found just days ago.
Since Michaela (12) disappeared shortly after midnight on Friday, after jumping on her bike and telling her parents she'd be gone only a short while, her mum Deirdre and dad Brendan have been waiting for their daughter to come home.
Last night she was returned to them.
Just before 6.30pm a hearse pulled into the leafy residential road. Outside many of the houses, mothers, fathers and children stood silently at their doors and gates to pay their respects as the black car carrying the white coffin passed slowly by.
Michaela was carried into the family home as her relatives embraced each other, ashen faced. No flowers filled the hearse which only made the small, brass-handled coffin all the more poignant.
Bouquets, soft toys and letters that had been left in tribute near the crime scene and at the entrance to the housing estate had been removed and delivered earlier in the day to Michaela's grieving parents and brother, Brendan (16).
Several members of the gardai watched as a small crowd slowly grew. Steadily a stream of people of all ages drove up and walked with heads bowed through the Davis's door.
Many described Michaela as "friendly", "kind", "a lovely girl". All were struck by the horror of her young life being cut short so suddenly, with such brutality.
Neighbour, and one of Michaela's close friends, Arnas Lukosevicius (15) was struggling to come to terms with the loss of his pal of seven years.
He said: "We saw each other every day and always hung out together on the estate. I'll miss so many things about her, she was a really good friend."
At around 8pm, mourners were led in prayers. Among them was Labour TD Joan Burton. Leaving the house she said: "It's terribly sad, and my thoughts and prayers are with the family."
But it was through friends that called last night to pay their last respects that a picture of Michaela started to emerge. She was a girl whose favourite colour was pink, someone who liked to dance to boyband JLS and DJ Cammy. Like many girls her age she loved romantic films and was interested in boys. She loved animals, especially her own two dogs. She had been excitedabout starting her new school, Luttrellstown Community College.
The full story of what happened in the early hours of Saturday morning is only starting to emerge. The young girl was found beaten and strangled and a teenager has been charged with her murder.
But yesterday Michaela's heartbroken parents released a statement. It read: "This situation is not and never will be about the crime or the perpetrator, it's about Michaela."
And last night, it was.