Vigil Mass held in Mallow for missing student Karen Buckley

Community of Mourneabbey, Co Cork, gather at Mass of Hope for Buckley family as 21-year-old man detained in Glasgow for questioning over disappearance of student


Parishioners in Mourneabbey began arriving for a vigil Mass for missing student Karen Buckley as a 21-year-old man was detained in Glasgow for questioning. Friends, relatives and neighbours filed into the Church of Saint Michael the Archangel, Analeentha, Mourneabbey, outside Mallow, Co Cork an hour before a Mass of Hope was due to begin.

The parish priest of Mourneabbey, Fr Joe O’Keeffe, said the purpose of the Mass was to pray for the safe return of Karen Buckley at this anxious time for the whole community. “As you can imagine, this is a particularly difficult and a particularly painful time for the Buckley family and indeed for all of us. I ask for prayers for the safe return of Karen and for the intentions of her parents Marian and John and her brothers Brendan, Kieran and Damian.”

Fr O’Keeffe said the Buckley family had the “absolute support of the greater community”, but the mood locally was sombre.

“The Buckley family are in our thoughts and in our prayers and will continue to be until there is a final outcome to this situation. We are all affected. It’s a small parish community, but a close-knit one. We are all feeling for the Buckley family without exception,” he said.

Neighbours running farm

Marian Buckley

“I know for a fact particularly the neighbours and friends are rallying around and looking after the homestead while Karen’s parents are in Glasgow and they are doing all they can to support the family from this side. As you can appreciate we are somewhat removed from John and Marian and from Karen but that being the case we are still very much with them spiritually,” Fr O’Keeffe said.

There were scenes of visible anguish as community members made their way into the church, which was packed with hundreds of parishioners. A crowd of about 100 people spilled out of the chapel and remained outside during the Mass.


“She’s a lovely, lovely girl, very quiet, sporty, she was never in trouble in school. This is very sad. It’s kind of hard to fathom,” said one. Another said; “It’s hard, I still can’t believe it. People go missing all the time, but never so close to home.”

Fr Sean Corkery grew up in the parish of Mourneabbey. He said the local community was stunned and shocked. “This Mass is an important moment. People feel the need to reach out to the family in any way they can, so they gather to pray together. I think their biggest prayer is that the family will feel the strength of the community and the community’s prayer behind them.”

Fr Corkery said Ms Buckley and her siblings were very close. “They are a beautiful family. We are shocked and stunned. She is missing, and we all pray and hope the family feel the strength of the community behind them,” he said.

Family friend John Cronin, from Mallow, described the Buckleys as “salt-of-the-earth people”.

“A lot of people want to show their solidarity in an open way. This Mass is a way for them to do that, and it’s important to us,” he said.

Bishop of Cloyne Dr William Crean asked for prayers for the safe return of Ms Buckley.

“We have all been deeply touched by the unconditional love expressed by John and Marian for their daughter, Karen. I ask the parish community of Mourneabbey, as you gather together this evening for the Mass of Hope for the Buckley family, to join with me in prayer for the safe return of Karen, and for her anxious parents and brothers Brendan, Kieran and Damian,” he said.