MOURNERS at the funeral of the murdered Irish student Karen Buckley were told yesterday of the indescribable hurt and pain wreaked on her devastated family by an “utterly inappropriate” death.
Amid heartbreaking scenes in her native Mourneabbey, near Mallow, Co Cork, Ms Buckley’s brothers placed a poignant photograph of her as a child starting school, as well as her nurse uniform, by her coffin.
The 24-year-old qualified nurse, who was studying for a masters degree in occupational therapy at Glasgow Caledonian University, was killed after a night out in Glasgow earlier this month.
Her body was found at a farm north of the city four days later and Alexander Pacteau was arrested and charged with her murder.
Yesterday parish priest Fr Joe O’Keeffe told mourners, led by her parents John, 62, and Marian, 61, and brothers Brendan, 32, Kieran, 28, and Damien, 27, that now was a time of tears.
As well as being a young woman, Miss Buckley, 24, was a friend, cousin, niece, sister-in-law, sister, and a child, he said.
Karen’s death seems so utterly inappropriate. It violates our sense of orderFr Joe O’Keeffe
To her parents in particular it was most difficult to see their only daughter travel from “the cradle to the coffin”, he told them.
“One represents the beginning of life and the other represents the end,” he said. “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.”
Ms Buckley’s local parish church, which holds 300 people, wasn’t big enough for the crowds that turned out to bid her a final farewell, including those who had travelled from Scotland.
A loudspeaker had to be put up so those who gathered outside could hear the service.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny was represented at the funeral, while a junior government minister, Darragh Murphy, and the Lord Mayor of Cork, Mary Shields, also turned out to pay their respects, as did a number of officers from Police Scotland.
“Karen’s death seems so utterly inappropriate,” said Fr O’Keeffe. “It violates our sense of order.” The priest told the congregation at the Church of Saint Michael the Archangel that many things would now leave a void for her loved ones.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Her funeral service was marked throughout by contributions from the many cousins and friends of Ms Buckley, who remembered her as a “gentle soul” whose life “revolved around family, friends and goodness”.
Friend Julie Malone said: “Karen touched the lives of all of us in a very special way and she was an example to us all.”
Prayers were also offered for the emergency services, police and fire service. Ms Buckley’s cousin Siobhan Leahy read a poem entitled Karen, which recalled her journey from “green country fields” to international studies, “a nurse with plans, a woman full of dreams”.
“A smile to lift a thousand frowns; brown eyes shining, big and round; a country girl – big hopes, big plans; big heart, big smile and caring hands,” she read.
As well as hymns by the local church choirs, there was also a version of the Irish female group Celtic Woman’s song Goodnight, My Angel.
In a reference to the student’s love of travel Fr O’Keefe said: “Through travelling extensively Karen reached many a destination. Shortly, we will travel with her mortal remains on her last earthly journey.”
Ms Buckley was buried after the funeral service in nearby Burnfort Cemetery, alongside her grandparents.