Nun who drowned in Kerry ‘belonged to two communities’

Funeral of Sr Paula Buckley hears she was about to celebrate her 50th jubilee

Presentation nun Sr Paula Buckley ‘belonged to two communities’ her funeral heard today.

Presentation nun Sr Paula Buckley ‘belonged to two communities’ her funeral heard today.


The death of Sr Paula Buckley in a double drowning tragedy last week in Kerry had left two families in mourning, the chief celebrant at her funeral Mass said today.

“She belonged to two communities,” Fr Joe Egan told hundreds of mourners in Cashel, “her own blood family and the Presentation family. You are both in mourning today and we sincerely sympathise with you.”

St Paula (70) and Sr Imelda Carew (67) drowned on Inch Beach while on holiday in the Dingle peninsula last week.

Fr Egan said that, on the day of Sr Paula’s death, he had earlier received in the post an invitation from her to an event due to take place next month celebrating 50 years since she joined the Presentation Order. “It wasn’t to be,” he said.

Mourners at today’s funeral Mass included Sr Paula’s sister, Marie and brother-in-law John, as well as her nieces, nephews and other relatives, friends, colleagues and neighbours.

Her niece, Deirdre, thanked all who had offered support and love over the last few days. “Auntie Paula had a huge impression on our lives,” she told the congregation at the Church of St John the Baptist, adding: “She was an avid fan of Tipperary hurling and sport in general. None of us were surprised by our win over Cork last Sunday, given our support from above.”

Her friend and colleague Sr Mary Brennan spoke of the happy memories and the sad events. “We have no full understanding of why we are here together,” she said of the funeral, “except we know Paula’s final journey will take place today.”

Among the symbols brought to the altar at the beginning of the Mass were Sr Paula’s bible; a lantern; two family photographs; water from the river Suir which flows close to the family home at Camas outside Cashel; a head of cabbage which she herself planted earlier in the year where she lived at Kilmahuddrick in Clondalkin; a picture of the Nano Nagle icon; and a pair of blue and gold wellington boots given to her on her birthday. The symbols had already been chosen by Sr Paula herself for the 50th jubilee Mass.

Sr Marguerite Ryan, representing the Province of Presentation Sisters, said the last few days since the tragic events in Kerry had been “an extraordinary experience” for all who knew Sr Paula. “Overwhelmed as we were by the double tragedy on on Thursday evening, we were even more overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayers and sympathy and love that have flowed from all over Ireland and indeed around the world. People have been moved by this tragedy.”

Among the 40-plus priests who concelebrated the funeral Mass which chief celebrant and parish priest of Boherlahan were Archbishop Dermot Clifford of the Cashel and Emly diocese and Bishop Martin Drennan.

Over 100 sisters from the Presentation Order and other orders were also present, including the Congregational Leader of the Presentation Sisters, Sr Mary Deane, and other members of the leadership Sr Frances Murphy, Sr Julie Watkins and Sr Anne O’Leary; along with Sr Mary Hoare of the order’s south-western province and Sr Elizabeth Maxwell who leads the order’s northern province.

President Michael D Higgins was represented by his aide-de-camp, Colonel Brendan McAndrew.

Sr Imelda Carew, who was leader of the south-eastern province, died along with Sr Paula last week at Inch. She was buried on Sunday following requiem Mass in Mountmellick, Co Laois.

After today’s funeral Mass, Sr Paula was taken on her last journey to Ardmayle Cemetery at Boherlahan, passing her old family home at Camas Bridge along the way.