Carlow mourners in ‘unwanted place of grief and sorrow’

Some 960 girls from St Leo’s College in Carlow pay respects to four friends who died

Attending the memorial service at The Cathedral of the Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary in Carlow. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan

Attending the memorial service at The Cathedral of the Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary in Carlow. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan

 

A “cloud, heavy, grey and heart-breaking” hangs over the town of Carlow in the aftermath of the deaths of four young women who died in a car crash this week, mourners who gathered in Carlow cathedral were told.

The 960 girls of St Leo’s College in the town came to pay their respects to four past pupils killed in the car crash on Tuesday night on the N78 outside Athy.

The four ex-pupils, Aisling Middleton (19), Niamh Doyle (19), Chermaine Carroll (20) and Gemma Nolan (19), were part of the Leaving Cert class of 2013.

Fr John Cummins, the administrator of the cathedral, spoke of pupils and past pupils being in an “unwanted place of grief and sorrow”.

He recalled how that class had adopted a theme from Dr Seuss, addressing both the challenges and the promise of the future.

“You’re off to great places; today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!”

Nobody in the congregation could guess that the mountain would be the grief experienced by the whole community, Fr Cummins told the packed congregation.

“So many people have been affected by this, those who taught the girls, those who knew them when they were here in school, some of you may know them through family connections or know a family member.”

Books of condolences for each of the four women were placed at the entrance to the cathedral. A montage of images of the four was on the altar.

Paschal candles were lit for each of them and for the driver of the car, Dayna Kearney, who is in a serious condition in hospital.

The principal of St Leo’s College, Clare Ryan, also alluded to the spirit of optimism which the class of 2013 summoned up as they left school.

Ms Ryan read a piece which Aisling Middleton had written for the school year-book. It was entitled Dreams.

“What is a dream? Could it be described as a wish, a goal or an escape. It is quite impossible to define such an important part of ourselves. A dream is like a garment. We sow it together carefully with thought hoping for the best. Each day, as we prepare to leave St Leo’s College for the last time, we move closer to those elusive creatures that we have all encountered. Yet, we still find it difficult to explain where they originate from and why they impact on us so much.

“Secondary school is a daunting task of patience and perseverance. For some it has brought happiness and others sadness, but together we have, like our dreams, grown and changed together.”

Requiem Mass

Requiem Mass for Chermaine Carroll will take place this morning at 11am at St Mary’s Church, Bennekerry, while Gemma Nolan’s funeral takes place at Holy Family Church, Askea, at 2pm.

 

Niamh Doyle’s funeral Mass is at the Holy Family Church at midday tomorrow, and Ashling Middleton’s requiem Mass will take place at the Church of the Irish Martyrs, Ballycane, Naas, at 2pm tomorrow.