Funeral of Elisha Gault (14): Teens need ‘real’ support, not Facebook friends

Family of teenager ‘have been robbed of her unique enthusiasm, her joy and her smile’

The remains of Elisaha Gault (14) are carried by her parents, Gráinne and Cameron (back left) from the Church of the Assumption, Piltown. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

The remains of Elisaha Gault (14) are carried by her parents, Gráinne and Cameron (back left) from the Church of the Assumption, Piltown. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

 

The chief celebrant at the funeral of Elisha Gault has urged teenagers to form strong support networks around themselves and to prioritise “real people” rather than the “artificial friends” to be found on social media.

Elisha Gault (14) was buried on Thursday in Piltown, Co Kilkenny, following a funeral Mass at the Church of the Assumption where she had previously made her first communion and confirmation.

Her parents Grainne Gault and Cameron Moore helped to carry her coffin into the church for the Mass, attended by hundreds of people including many teenagers. Elisha’s sisters Bhrianna, Chloe-Nicole and Saoirse were also comforted by family members and friends.

They’ve been deprived of her gentle presence. There is an emptiness, a void that no-one can fill this morning for them

Her body was found in the river Suir on Sunday evening by search and rescue helicopter crew members taking part in the multi-agency search which had got under way more than a week earlier when she was reported missing by her family.

She was last seen alive on Dillon Bridge in Carrick-on-Suir on the night of St Patrick’s Day.

As her remains left her home on New Street in Carrick on Thursday morning, hundreds lined the streets of the town in silence. The cortege made its way to Dillon Bridge where family members and many friends dropped white flowers into the river in remembrance, before the funeral moved on to Piltown.

Friends of Elisha Gault carry flowers at the Church of the Assumption, Piltown at her funeral Mass. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin
Friends of Elisha Gault carry flowers at the Church of the Assumption, Piltown at her funeral Mass. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Symbols of Elisha’s short life brought to the altar included a book and a phone as well as a cross and a Bible.

Parish priest Fr Paschal Moore, who concelebrated the Mass with other priests from the area, described Elisha as a “beautiful young girl” and said it was a sad morning for her family, her schoolmates from Comeragh College, the staff of the college, the community, and all her friends.

“Every funeral is sad. Every departure brings its sorrows but today nothing can compare to the grief, the searing grief, that Elisha’s family are now experiencing so our thoughts and our prayers are for them on this very, very sad morning.”

In his homily, Fr Moore said Elisha’s death has given rise to many emotions among family members and the community: disbelief, shock, anger, guilt, even abandonment.

‘Gentle presence’

“Elisha’s death has raised many questions but hasn’t given many answers. This morning we want to really and truly empathise with this family, the Gault and Moore family, because they have been robbed of the company of their loving daughter, they have been robbed of her unique enthusiasm and her joy and her smile. They’ve been deprived of her gentle presence. There is an emptiness, a void that no-one can fill this morning for them.”

You need real people around you, real genuine, caring people and I would encourage you, every one of you, to find a real, good support network for yourselves

The community wanted to be the “shoulder you can lean on,” he said.

“Elisha’s outward appearance and behaviour were masked by an air of hopelessness within. She felt trapped, she was a prisoner of her feelings and her thoughts which weighed heavily on her and she was in turmoil, a turmoil we can never appreciate or understand.

“Elisha, she took the only route she felt she could take. She took the only route she felt she could take. Not the right route, not the right choice, but it was the only route that she felt she could take. Her actions have left her family, her community, her schoolfriends devastated and completely, utterly upset and confused. We pray that she is at peace today.”

Elisha Gault (14) was buried on Thursday in Piltown, Co Kilkenny.
Elisha Gault (14) was buried on Thursday in Piltown, Co Kilkenny.

He addressed some words directly to her schoolmates and friends, pointing out a leaflet, My Support Network, available in the church.

“We all have our worries, our stresses and our anxieties. The problem arises when our anxiety takes over every part of our lives.

“Today, boys and girls, I encourage you to form a support network around yourselves... I would encourage you also to turn off your iPhone every now and again. Facebook is wonderful at times and people boast about how many friends they have on Facebook, but your friends on Facebook are artificial friends.

“You need real people around you, real genuine, caring people and I would encourage you, every one of you, to find a real, good support network for yourselves.”

During the week, Elisha’s mother Grainne said on Facebook that her “gorgeous, beautiful” daughter “had a genuine soul but she was a troubled girl” and that mental health was “a serious and desperate issue,” not only in Ireland but around the world.

* If you are affected by any of the issues raised, you can contact: Pieta House at 1800-247247, or Samaritans by telephoning 116123 for free, texting 087-2609090 or emailing jo@samaritans.org