Mourners hear Carlow road crash victim was a ‘kind and thoughtful girl’ with a love of cars

Life of Katie Graham (19), a ‘petrol head’ who loved her BMW, ‘cut too short’, priest tells funeral

The life of a “kind and thoughtful girl” was cut too short, hundreds of mourners heard as they gathered to pay their respects to Katie Graham, who died alongside two others in a single vehicle car crash in Co Carlow on Wednesday.

Katie (19) from Ballinagall, Ballickmoyler on the Laois/Carlow border died when the Lexus car she was travelling in skidded after heavy rain in the townland of Leagh between Graiguenaspiddoge and Kelllistown about 5km from Carlow town at about 11.30pm on Wednesday.

Two of her friends, Daryl Culbert (21) from Kiltegan, Co Wicklow, and Michael Kelly (25) from Nurney, Co Carlow, also died in the single vehicle crash. A fourth occupant of the car was seriously injured.

Daryl Culbert’s funeral also took place on Monday, while Michael’s will take place on Tuesday.


The car was travelling in the direction of Carlow town. It is understood the group was travelling to a Circle K garage in Rathcrogue where car enthusiasts sometimes meet.

Members of the public began to gather an hour before the first year Dublin City University student’s Requiem Mass at The Church of the Sacred Heart.

Katie’s white coffin was surrounded by pink and white floral wreaths with one bearing her name. Her parents and younger sister followed the hearse driving her blue M-series BMW bearing the number plate ‘Katie’.

Her friends and cousins wore pink, blue and green ribbons. They formed a guard of honour as her coffin was carried into the church by six pallbearers, one of whom was her father Damien.

Fr Padraig Shelley, parish priest of Arles, told mourners said Katie’s death had “affected us all” in the community.

“As neighbours, friends and parishioners, we gather in sadness and we gather to support Katie’s family, her mother Breda, father Damien, sister Laura, her grandparents, Andy and Mary, her aunts, uncles, cousins and all the extended family. We pray God’s peace and strength in your lives in this terrible time for each of you,” he said.

Several symbols important to Katie were brought to the altar by her younger sister Laura and a number of her cousins.

Her cousin Seamus brought a family photo; Laura brought a number plate with Katie’s name on it; Shane brought a Kilkenny jersey as she loved travelling to hurling matches; Sarah brought a stitched teddy; while Amy brought her jewellery box. Laura brought a target shooting board; Emma brought one of many handbags; while Niamh brought nail varnish.

Fr Shelley explained that as a teenager Katie developed an interest in cars and guns. “That’s what Katie loved. These were very much part of her life and gave her energy and joy.”

Fr Shelley said she took to quad bikes “naturally”, entering the South Eastern Quad Bike Championship.

“Having become a bit of a petrol head she eagerly got a provisional licence and a full licence at the age of 18. She would scour the internet for links to cars and gently send them to her father Damien. She eventually did get her own car and it was her pride and joy. Who knew an M-Series BMW would need all these additions?” said Fr Shelley.

She was also interested in target shooting when she was younger. She loved travelling to rallies, including the Rally of the Lakes in Killarney and the Donegal International Rally.

“She had so many friends who would congregate at Junction 5 in Rathcrogue, Co Carlow. You are all in our thoughts and prayers at this time as well. We keep you in our prayers, and also the Culbert and Kelly families.”

Ms Graham hoped to become a primary schoolteacher and follow in the footsteps of her late grandmother, Síle. Fr Shelley said she “would have made a wonderful contribution to the care of young children”.

One of the family’s final memories was of her dancing around the kitchen to the Bill Withers song Just The Two of Us, mourners heard.

She was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery following the funeral Mass.

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