Hundreds attend funeral to mourn 'senseless loss' of Aoife Phelan


The death of Co Laois woman Aoife Phelan (30) was a “senseless loss”, mourners at her funeral were told at the weekend.

Ballyroan parish priest Fr Gerard Ahern said after the tragedy everyone was left looking for answers that could not be found. “That someone should die in the circumstances that Aoife’s life was taken goes beyond human understanding,” he said.

“We shouldn’t be here today, but that is the reality we are confronted with.”

Ms Phelan was killed more than two weeks ago and her body was discovered in the locality last Wednesday.

Hundreds of mourners filled St Patrick’s Church and its grounds in Ballyroan, not far from the young woman’s family home. The village was at a standstill, with all businesses closed for the funeral and hundreds of parked cars lining the roads in both directions.

The entire community appeared to have turned out to support Ms Phelan’s parents, Michael and Betty, her 11 brothers and sisters and her extended family.

Fr Ahern described Ms Phelan as a happy person who lived life to the full. She was caring, thoughtful and loved children. She was also a rugby supporter, a Chelsea fan and had a talent for art and a love of music. He urged family and friends not to forget the good times they shared with her.

Fr Ahern also paid tribute to the Phelan family, describing them as strong, united and loving. The community felt for them in their grief, he said.

On behalf of the family, he thanked the gardaí and friends and neighbours for their support. He also thanked the mortuary attendants at Midlands Regional Hospital in Tullamore for “the way they looked after Aoife”.

Emblems placed on Ms Phelan’s coffin included Barry’s teabags, a Chelsea mug and art materials. At the close of the funeral, family members read poems and shared memories, describing Ms Phelan as a “beautiful, radiant star” with a “bubbly personality” who brought joy and happiness.

As her coffin was removed from the church, the bell tolled and Always by her favourite band, Bon Jovi, was played.

Mourners stood in silence and Ballyroan women’s football club formed a guard of honour as the coffin left the grounds for burial at St Patrick’s Cemetery.