Fourth funeral in wake of Athy car crash takes place

Only child Ashling Middleton remembered as a ‘creative free spirit’

The funeral of Ashling Middleton, who died in a car crash along with three of her friends last Tuesday, Church of the Irish Martyrs in Ballycane, Naas. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

The funeral of Ashling Middleton, who died in a car crash along with three of her friends last Tuesday, Church of the Irish Martyrs in Ballycane, Naas. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

 

The funeral for the fourth and last victim of Tuesday night’s car crash on the N78 has taken place in Naas on Saturday afternoon.

Ashling Middleton (19), an only child, was described at her funeral mass as a “creative free spirit” who always had a plan.

Her father Ray, known as skipper, died when she was just 12. She took her father’s name at her confirmation.

Her grandfather David Thornley said Ashling had inherited her sense of humour from both her parents, Ray and Sharon.

She had found “great friends, happiness and joy” during her years at St Leo’s College in Carlow. All four young women who died in the crash – Aisling Middleton, Chermaine Carroll (20), Niamh Doyle (19) and Gemma Nolan (19) – attended the school.

She had left her family with wonderful memories and “we will take great solace in these memories”, he told the congregation at the Church of the Irish Martyrs in Ballycane, Naas.

He quoted the poem that Ashling had written for the school yearbook in 2013. It had been previously been quoted by St Leo’s College principal Clare Ryan at a memorial service earlier in the week.

“We are not our past, we are not our future. We are the present. With our dreams we have the ability to transform the world from the mundane to the beautiful, from the grey to the gold.

“If some day we lose these goals for a while, we shouldn’t worry. Like the friends which we have made in the last six years, our dreams will always await our return and welcome us back with open arms and a wise smile willing to chase away the darkness of failure in return for a little time and care.”

Naas Parish Priest Fr Liam Morgan told the congregation of Ashling’s “witty sense of humour” and love of life and music.

A book, symbolising her love of reading and writing was placed on the altar along with her ticket for a One Direction concert, which she was due to attend later in the year.

Ms Middleton spent her early years in Naas, but moved to Athy where she was living at the time of her death. She had been a second year student of English and Anthropology at Maynooth University.

The funeral was attended by the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin Dr Denis Nulty who was unable to attend the other funerals as he had been out of the country.

He spoke of the “huge tragedy” visited on the four families by Tuesday night’s crash.

He said the four women had died on the Feast of the Epiphany also known as “Nollaig na mBan”.