THE DEATH of schoolgirl Michaela Davis has sent shock waves right across the nation.
Words fail to express the grief, suffering and agony that Michaela's parents Deirdre and Brendan and brother Brendan, as well as her extended family, are suffering at this moment.
A sudden death is always the most terrible occurrence but such a passing for a child like Michaela is on a different level and fills us all with horror and revulsion.
On Friday last, she left her Porterstown home at midnight, telling her parents that she would be back shortly. The minutes and hours went by with no sign of her.
Her parents became concerned and raised the alarm, then the search for Michaela began.
One can only try to imagine the rising sense of fear and foreboding as the hours went by and the intensive garda search failed to locate Michaela.
Every parent's worst nightmare was then confirmed on Saturday evening when the shocking news finally came, that their beloved daughter's body had been found on the banks of the Royal Canal just hundreds of yards from their own home.
It is impossible for any of us to comprehend the suffering this news had brought to the Davis family. Nothing will ever be the same again for this family. Their beautiful, bubbly daughter, on the cusp of her teenage years with her entire life lying ahead, was snatched from them in a gruesome fashion.
I remembered moments in my former career as a garda when I was the bearer of similar awful news. It is one of the most difficult tasks an officer can have, to break horrendous news such as this to a distraught family.
On one occasion, which I remember to this day, I broke the news to a mother and father that their son had been violently killed. I made the mistake of not taking a member of the clergy to accompany me.
I learned my lesson and never again brought such bad news to a family without a priest or vicar with me to help console the family.
Unfortunately, Michaela's death wasn't the only teen tragedy in the past week.
I can't help but think of the incalculable loss in my home county of Kerry with the death of 15-year-old Aine Riordan, who died in a car crash with her pals, David (17) and Kevin (15) Breen and 19-year-old Brian Coffey.
At least there is some consolation for Michaela's parents that their daughter's body was found quickly and they weren't subjected to a harrowing wait. They can now plan a funeral for their beloved daughter.
The death of a child is a tragedy of such enormous proportions that it is only right and proper that the staff at Luttrellstown Community School are providing counselling for the distraught and shocked pupils in the college. After all, Michaela started there only last Thursday.
There have been hundreds of messages on Facebook, offering condolences to Michaela's family in their time of grief. It is every parent's worst nightmare to have to bury their child. It almost cries out against nature.
Her violent death has shocked and numbed the entire nation once again, and has sent a chill up the spines of parents throughout the lands.
I would like to offer my prayers and condolences to the Davis family in the coming days, weeks and months of grief and ordeal.
LIKE most people, I’m saddened at Mick Lally’s death.
Mick was one of our greatest actors, a gifted artist on the big and small screen and on the boards.
He brought so many smiles to our faces and as an actor challenged many of our social mores.
I listened as tributes poured in describing his his warmth as a human being and his generosity of spirit.
My first thoughts were of Lally in the RTE series Bracken and his iconic role of Miley in Glenroe, the quintessential Irish man of his day.
There were years when the cry of "Well Holy God" was on the lips of everyone the length and breath of the country.
I saw him in a number of plays and was truly impressed.
Memorably, he played the horse dealer in the film Alexander, with Colin Farrell in the lead role.
It should be remembered he hid his light under a bushel and was the antithesis of his character Miley.
He was a man of letters, an extremely erudite and learned individual who could quote Shakespeare backwards in his sleep.
Of course, I hope he is wrong in one thing.
Mick was an atheist, who believed once we died we turned into dust and that was the end of it.
"I classify myself as an atheist. I think we just die and we're just vegetables who decompose. That's it. I don't know why it is that mankind has elevated itself to this notion of another life, of elevation to another spiritual life," he said recently.
I hope you've been pleasantly surprised, Mick.