‘We need to ask God to bring us peace’

Lithuanian village in mourning at funeral of mother and eight-year-old daughter

 The funeral cortege of Jolanta Lubiene and her daughter Enrika at the village of Gadunavas in Lithuania.

The funeral cortege of Jolanta Lubiene and her daughter Enrika at the village of Gadunavas in Lithuania.


Hundreds of mourners gathered to pay their final respects to Jolanta Lubiene and her daughter, Enrika, as they were laid to rest in the tiny village of Gadunavas, in northern Lithuania, yesterday. Shortly before 11.30am, the funeral cortege left the community centre where the remains of Ms Lubiene and her daughter had reposed overnight, to begin the slow six-mile journey through the lush Lithuanian landscape to the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Ms Lubiene (27) and her daughter (8) had been found dead at their rented home in Killorglin, Co Kerry, on June 16th. A 26-year-old Lithuanian man was subsequently charged with their murders.

Addressing the congregation who had gathered in the late-19th century red-brick church, Fr Juozas Siurys said that while all deaths bring sadness, the death of young people is particularly difficult.

“We cannot bring them back to life, but we can pray for them,” he said. “No one can tell when or how God will come. Today we need to ask God to bring us peace.”

Chief mourners
Among the chief mourners at the funeral were Ms Lubiene’s parents, her five siblings, eight nieces and nephews and husband Marius.

Photographs of Jolanta Lubiene and Enrika, dressed in her Killorglin national school uniform, were placed in front of the white coffins during the mass.

In his homily, Fr Yaidas Bumblauskas spoke of the power of Baptism. “When a baby is baptised a candle is lit. With death, that candle is extinguished, but even after death, they are happy.”

He quoted Lithuanian poet Bernardas Brazozionis, who wrote that no matter what circumstances life throws at us, one must keep going.

Much of the Roman Catholic Mass was chanted, while a trio of brass instruments and a small choir sang traditional hymns, including Nearer My God to Thee. The white, domed interior was filled with roses.

A procession of local people, holding garlands of flowers, led the funeral procession out of the church, while family members carried the coffins the short distance to the graveyard.

In keeping with Lithuanian tradition, none of Ms Lubiene’s family spoke during the funeral Mass.

However, a former teacher of Jolanta Lubiene gave a short graveside oration, in which she spoke of the sense of tragedy that had enveloped the community since hearing of the deaths.

Tragedy for all
“This was a tragedy for the whole community. No matter what happens they are still in our hearts and in our minds,” she said, adding that she would come to the grave as often as she could.

Ms Lubiene and her daughter had been due to return to Lithuania to live next Monday. However, both were found dead just over three weeks ago in their rented house in Killorglin.

Ms Lubiene and her five siblings had all spent time working in Ireland, first settling in Glenbeigh, Co Kerry, before Jolanta, her husband and daughter moved to Killorglin. Her sister Kristina settled close by in Milltown.

The sisters worked together in Supervalu in Killorglin, before Jolanta moved to take up a catering role at St Joseph’s nursing home in the town over a year ago.

Kristina, who was due to begin a new job with Burke’s butchers this week, said that she intends to return to Ireland to resume her life with her husband and two children. She thanked the community in Killorglin for their support since the tragedy.

Ms Lubiene’s husband, Marius, had moved to Sweden to work late last year, but returned to Ireland following the death of his wife and daughter.

He had been staying in Tralee before returning to Lithuania for the funeral.