Karen Buckley funeral hears of tragedy that ‘doesn’t make sense’

Fr Joe O’Keeffe said a young life being cut short violated people’s sense of order


The death of Irish student Karen Buckley simply “doesn’t make sense”, coming when she was just 24 years of age, mourners were told at her funeral mass in her native Mourneabbey this afternoon.

Funeral mass celebrant Fr Joe O’Keeffe said that Ms Buckley’s death in Scotland earlier this month violated people’s sense of order when she had so much of her life in front of her.

“In our view of life, death and childhood are poles apart, and 24 years simply does not seem the right time to die – it does not seem to add up,” he said.

Addressing Ms Buckley’s grieving parents, John and Marian and her brothers, Brendan, Kieran and Damien, and her many friends, Fr O’Keeffe recalled the young woman.

“Death is sad at any age, but our feelings concerning death are not always of the same degree. To us Karen was a young woman, a friend.

“To her family she was a cousin, a niece, a sister-in-law, a sister, a daughter, a child. It is most difficult then for them, but in particular for Karen’s parents, John and Marian, to associate the cradle to the coffin.

“One represents the beginning of life and the other represents the end. And it is doubly sad when the two are so closely linked.

“We are deeply, deeply saddened when the life of someone so young is cut short, and in Karen’s case, so tragically and horrifically so, by the curtain of death.”

Mourners began flocking to the small church of St Michael the Archangel in Analeentha not far from the family farm at Glynn in Mourneabbey well before 2pm.

The local community had erected a marquee to accommodate the overspill of mourners from the church which has capacity for just 300 people and as many again thronged the tent.

In his homily drawing on the words of the Book of Ecclessiastes, Fr O’Keeffe touched on themes of time and tears and the void left by Ms Buckley’s death.

“There are many things in life that become so much a part of a home that their absence leaves a void. It may be a picture that hangs on the wall, a familiar footstep, a stray kitten whom Karen named ‘Boots’, or whatever.

“But nothing becomes so indispensable as a child. From the outset he or she tangles his or her tiny fingers in our heart strings and when they are pulled away the hurt is indescribable. It is an hour of heartache, a time of tears.”

Fr O’Keeffe urged Ms Buckley’s family to find solace in their faith as a means of trying to deal with the enormity of the tragedy that has been visited upon them.

“St Paul speaks of times in life when ‘we must walk by faith because we cannot walk by sight’. This is one of those times. There is no way for us to see and think our way through an hour such as we now face.

“Within the scope of human reason, a tragedy such as this simply doesn’t make sense. Therefore we either despair or find our strength in faith,” he said.

Ms Buckley’s parents brought up bread and wine for Holy Communion and earlier before mass began, her three brothers also brought offertory gifts to symbolise her life.

Each of the gifts was introduced by Ms Buckley’s cousin, Padraig Hurley, who spoke of her educational achievements, her skill as a nurse and her love of fashion.

Her oldest brother, Brendan, brought up a photograph of Ms Buckley at her first day at Analeentha National School immediately adjacent to the church.

The picture symbolised Ms Buckley’s love of learning, said Fr O’Keeffe, noting that she had been studying for a Masters in Occupational Therapy in Glasgow when she died.

Her brother, Kieran, brought Ms Buckley’s nursing uniform following her graduation in 2014 .

“She was known for being a kind and caring nurse whose smile would light up the ward,” said Mr Hurley.

And her brother, Damien, brought up Ms Buckley’s favourite dress which she had worn at the wedding of her brother, Brendan and his wife Niamh.

“Karen had a love of fashion and always wanted to look her best. As you can see from the picture she looked beautiful,” added Mr Hurley.

After mass, Ms Buckley’s father and her three brothers shouldered her coffin to the waiting hearse before it began its journey through the hilly byways of the Clyda valley to her final resting place in Burnfort cemetery beside her grandparents, Patrick and Hannah.