Ana Kriegel: ‘Beautiful, sometimes cheeky but always loving’
Friends of murdered schoolgirl (14) form a guard of honour at her funeral
The funeral of Ana Kriegel takes place at Newlands Cross Crematorium. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Anastasia Kriegel’s death notice was clear in its instruction.
“Ana loved sparkle and colour,” it said. “The family wish for the dress code to reflect this.”
And so they came on Thursday, to Newlands Cross Crematorium, close to 1,000 family and friends to say their goodbyes to the 14-year-old girl who was adopted from Russia aged two and who sang, danced, laughed and cuddled her way into their hearts.
But it was Ana herself who sparkled brighter than anyone throughout the civil funeral service, one that was devoid of the usual religious obsequies but was brimming with love, memories and many, many tears for a life cut cruelly short.
“None of us wants to be here this afternoon,” said the celebrant, Padraic Cawley, “none of us wants to say goodbye to Ana for the last time. We are all numb, confused and very angry and bewildered that such a thing has happened to the most beautiful, caring, kind, strong willed, crazy, sometimes cheeky but always a loving princess.”
The glittering, bubbling life celebrated in the austere, circular crematorium setting seemed so terribly far removed from the one that ended in an abandoned and derelict Lucan farmhouse on May 14th and in relation to which another child has been charged with murder.
The little girl from Russia loved her dancing, her music, her fashion, swimming, dogs, her heritage, her annual holidays in France. What words could anyone use, asked Mr Cawley?
“There are no words,” he said in answer.
But while the occasion was one of great sadness, it was also an opportunity to celebrate a short but very full and colourful life.
The choir of Confey Community College, which Ana attended, sang A Million Dreams, from the musical, The Greatest Showman — “A million dreams is all it’s gonna take/A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make” – and Ana’s dancing friends from Dance LA of Leixlip, red headscarves tied up into bows to hold their hair up, and all wearing silver sequined wristbands, provided a guard of honour.
Many were in tears as Ana’s coffin was walked in past them, weeping that for many continued throughout the service of reflection.
The Russian ambassador to Ireland,Yuri Filitov, paid his respects to Ana’s grieving parents, Geraldine and Patrick, lingering with them, holding hands and whispering comfort.
Young relatives brought symbols of Ana’s life. There was the flag of Russia which they laid open on her dark wood coffin. There was a matryoshka doll, like the one Geraldine and Patrick used to hold a photo of baby Ana which they handed to family friends, the surprise inside announcing an imminent arrival in Leixlip of the then 2½-year-old who later liked to announce proudly that she came from Siberia. There were Ana’s headphones; a photo of Eddie, her favourite dog; and a model of the Eiffel Tower symbolising her love of France and the annual family holidays spent there with Patrick’s relatives. There was a memory box filled by the students of Confey College; and finally, Ana’s outfit from Dance LA.
Ana embraced life with both hands, said Mr Cawley. But inside Siberian warrior Anna, as she liked to style herself, was also a little girl who loved to cuddle up in her pyjamas with her Mum on a Sunday “watching some beautiful fairytale princess movie while munching her favourite food, popcorn”.
This was what she and Geraldine had done on Sunday, May 13th – the day before everything changed.
“Life is so, so fragile,” said Mr Cawley. “It is a privilege and tomorrow is never promised to any of us... So live every day as a blessing, an opportunity and leave nothing behind.”
Ana’s aunt Jan remembered Ana’s exuberance as a child, delighting in water – first the family shower, then swimming in the lake. She loved to perform for her family, dancing and singing for them; she wanted to be a mermaid and Santa Claus obliged – a photograph on screen showing a pretty girl in an orange mermaid outfit, posing stretched out on a sofa.
“She just loved it and as far as she was concerned, it was the most natural thing to be dressed in on Christmas morning,” said Jan.
And as the delightful, pretty child blossomed into a beautiful teenager, the love of display took on new forms, the latest being a dalliance with goth sub-culture. Ana mused one day with the notion of getting some piercings, much to the anxiety of her mother who suggested that delaying a little would be a good idea.
Ana responded, said Jan: “You’re always tell me to be myself Mam and this is me!”
‘This is me’
Through further memories from close family friend Catherine Murphy TD and two of her teachers, the theme of “This is me” was never far from the surface. The Ana who emerged from stories of holidays in France, her impact in San Carlo National School and more recently Confey College, was a sparkling, loving, gifted, ever eager and obliging child with a big personality that impacted on all who knew her.
A slide show of images showed a pretty and playful child emerge into a beautiful young woman, a dazzling butterfly looking more than the mere 14 years she was. And in the background, the song This Is Me, also from The Greatest Showman, played: “When the sharpest words wanna cut me down/ I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out/I am brave, I am bruised I am who I’m meant to be/This is me...”
Looking out from in front of the altar was the now well known photograph of Ana from her recent fashion show – looking out, side on, her hand raised to her lips, blowing a kiss to the photographer, her hair set in high chignon style.
But as the celebration drew to a close, it was the final image shown, that of an effortlessly beautiful girl next door, no make-up, no special hair do, no gold lame dress, just a naturally pretty young woman, that drew an ovation and many, many tears.