Congregation pays tribute to ‘inspiring’ nuns drowned in Kerry

Two Presentation Sisters who died at Inch Beach on Dingle Peninsula last night named


The two nuns who died at Inch Beach on the Dingle Peninsula yesterday evening have been named as Sr Paula Buckley (70) and Sr Imelda Carew (67), of the Presentation congregation’s southeast province. Sr Carew was provincial of the southeast province.

Both nuns were among a group of three Presentation sisters who were on holiday in the Dingle peninsula.Their companion was waiting on the beach for them at the time they got into difficulty.

In a statement this afternoon, the Presentation Sisters said the nuns “were on holiday in Kerry and got into difficulties during an early evening swim at Inch Strand. They were taken from the water by the Valentia Coast Guard and airlifted to Tralee hospital, where they were later pronounced dead.”

Presentation congregational leader Sr Mary Deane said: “We are all stunned and shocked by this tragedy... as we come to terms with the tragic events that unfolded on a beautiful sunny evening. It is a tragic loss for all of us and for their families.

“These two wonderful women have been a source of inspiration and blessing to many people throughout their lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, communities and friends of our beloved Sisters at this time.”

Those close to the tragedy are puzzled as to what exactly happened. The two women, with addresses in Terenure and Clondalkin, were just feet from the shore and were said to be in shallow water in calm conditions.

The third Sister was not swimming, and stood watching her companions from the shoreline, waiting for them to emerge from the water.

The two in the water had been standing up a short time before – not far from the strand. They had waved back to their companion. Suddenly she no longer saw them and alerted the lifeguards, whose station was nearby.

The lifeguards, summer staff employed by the council who were coming off duty at the time, were able to wade in and pull the two from the water. They did not have to swim to reach the women, who were apparently just 3 ft from shore.

A council spokesman said there were no currents, it was close to high tide at the time and the evening was calm.

The rescue helicopter was dispatched from Shannon and was on the scene at 7.56pm. It left the beach at 8.10pm and landed at Kerry General Hospital, Tralee, at 8.15pm. Two ambulance units and the Dingle coastguard unit also attended the scene.

One person close to the investigation described the puzzlement felt by the rescue services and others who were quickly on the scene. “It’s just not logical,” he said.

The community at Inch is shocked by the deaths. “It was a lovely evening. The beach wasn’t that busy because earlier it had been bad all day,” according to one local.

Postmortems are being carried out today and the results are awaited.

Sgt Noel Burke of Dingle gardaí is heading the investigation. “They are sudden deaths. We are investigating.”

Sr Imelda Carew

Sr Imelda Carew (67) was provincial of the Presentation Sisters south east province which stretches from Dublin to the south of the country and is one of three such congregational regions in Ireland.

From Kilmore near Dundrum, Co Tipperary, she is survived by a wide extended family including Sr Olivere, a member of the Presentation Sisters’ community in Dungarvan Co


A former pupil, boarder and teacher at the Presentation College in Clonmel, she ended up being principal there. Earlier this year she attended a 40-year reunion of her Presentation Clonmel school class and was also an invited guest at several events held in the south east region to mark the bicentenary of the congregation’s arrival in various towns following its foundation by Nano Nagle.

Among these was a Mass held at St Mary’s Church in Clonmel last October at which she was one of the speakers, as well as a similar event in St Nicholas’s Church in Carrick-on-Suir last year, and also a civic reception held by Clonmel Borough Council earlier this year.

Sr Imelda was also very active in the justice ministry throughout Ireland and worldwide. For the past number of years she has served in the ministry of leadership in the Presentation congregation.

Her death was “a huge blow to the order,” a senior figure in the Presentation congregation said yesterday. Though both sisters were of an age “they would have been seen as young nuns. It’s very sad and a big blow,” she said.

Sr Paula Buckley

Sr Paula Buckley (70) was from Camas Bridge outside Cashel in Co Tipperary. Tomorrow (August 17th) she would have marked her 50th year of religious life which she had planned to celebrate with family, fellow sisters and friends next month in Cashel.

She taught for many years at the Presentation secondary school in Cashel before it closed with the merger of the local second-level schools to form Cashel Community School. She then moved from the town and was based over recent years in Clondalkin in Dublin. She remained a a frequent visitor to her home area, however, and earlier this summer attended a fundraising dance event in the village of Boherlahan, near Cashel. “She was a lovely nun,” one local man said yesterday. “Everybody was mad about her, she was just a very nice nun.”

She is survived by her sister Marie, brother in law, nephews and nieces. For the past couple of years Sr Paula has been involved in Prison ministry in Dublin which she loved. For many years she was involved in teaching and career guidance in our secondary schools throughout the south east Province. She too served on leadership teams in the province and ministered for a number of years in the Nano Nagle Centre in Ballygriffin, Co Dublin.