About 100 people braved the cold and wet conditions in Eyre Square, Galway yesterday evening to pay their respects to Savita Halappanavar on the first anniversary of her death.
They staged a candlelight vigil in memory of the Indian dentist who had moved to Galway with her husband but who died at University College Hospital last year a few days after presenting with signs of miscarriage.
Her husband Praveen did not attend the vigil and spent the anniversary with friends.
The Mayor of Galway, Cllr Padraig Conneely, attended and said that Savita would always be remembered in Galway. "This is the city Savita had lived in, both she and her husband had made their homes here and it is important that we don't forget her," he said.
Most of the people who gathered to honour her had never met her, but wanted to show their support.
They lit candles around a photograph of Savita, and listened while a performer sang Nancy Spain, ending it with the words: "Savita, we will never forget your name."
A good friend of Savita's, Sunil Koppuri, said that friends and members of the Indian community in Galway were still trying to come to terms with her death.
“It is difficult today but we are always thinking of Savita. It is not easy, sometimes it feels like she is not gone but then we know it is true. We came today to remember our friend,” he said.
Another close friend, Vishali Valluri, said Savita was an incalculable loss to all who knew her.
“I still think she can’t be gone. She was my very good friend and I miss her every day. We thought she would make it, I never thought she would die. It’s still very hard every day but especially today,” she said.
A separate vigil outside Cork Opera House was attended by more than 40 people. Maureen Considine, co-founder of Cork Feminista, who handed out candles at the vigil, said the passing of Savita had had a profound impact on Irish society.
“When the first vigil was organised last year I turned to my partner and said ‘We are going.’ I felt that what happened to Savita could have happened to any of us.”
Ms Considine described Praveen Halappanavar as an “amazing man”. “He has made the effort to continue to speak about this publicly at a time of great difficulty. He has been a profound gift to us all. This vigil is about remembering Savita and honoring the Halappanavar family. We want to show solidarity with them.”
Joe Moore said Savita lost her life in a shocking and senseless manner. "Praveen has shown such strength and courage over the last 12 months."