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St Mary's Pro Cathedral

'Not part of God's plan': Hundreds attend Dublin funeral for Emma Mhic Mhathúna

The funeral cortège passed by the Dáil, the Department of Health, and Áras an Uachtarán.

LAST UPDATE | 10 Oct 2018

8219 Emma Funeral_90555996 The coffin of Emma Mhic Mhathúna is carried into St Mary's Pro Cathedral. Sam Boal via Sam Boal via

HUNDREDS GATHERED AT St Mary’s Pro Cathedral in Dublin this afternoon to pay their respects and remember Emma Mhic Mhathúna.

As her coffin was carried up the steps of the cathedral for the second funeral Mass, people who had gathered on the opposite side of the road broke into applause.

During the Mass, Father Paddy Moran paid tribute to a woman who was courageous, funny, generous, and dedicated to her faith and children.

He said that Emma had seen her illness as something that wasn’t part of God’s plan, and had been caused by human error.

Human suffering is a painful and dreadful reality, Emma suffered, and she endured in her suffering with great dignity and enormous courage. She held onto life for as long as she could.

Emma Mhic Mhathuna funeral PA Wire / PA Images PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

After the ceremony, as the coffin was wheeled down the aisle by her five children, the congregation broke into applause.

After leaving St Mary’s, the funeral cortège passed by Leinster House, where members of the public and politicians had gathered and clapped as the hearse passed by.

It’s understood that the cortege will pass by Government Buildings on Merrion Street, and the Department of Health on Baggot Street.

Among those who attended the funeral were President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty, Vicky Phelan and Stephen Teap.

Yesterday, an Irish-language funeral Mass was held at Séipéal na Carraige, Baile na nGall, near her home in Baile an Fheirtearaigh in West Kerry.

9103 Emma Funeral_90555994 Vicky Phelan arriving at St Mary's Pro Cathedral. Sam Boal Sam Boal

Children’s book

At the end of his homily, Father Moran said that Emma had been writing a children’s book, and read the first two chapters out.

Here’s an extract from the first chapter:

School bell goes. Summer’s finally here. We have a super summer planned. Fishing, football, swimming, sheep chasing, exploring and winding the locals up awaits. Out the door, school bags on the shoulder, jumpers round the waist, down Muireach hill.
A car pulls up. Americans looking for directions. That happens a lot down here. We send them the wrong way for the craic. Nothing beats a bit of mischief.

 And an extract from the second chapter:

Mammy’s in Ireland think of everything. I forgot my school lunch one day and my Mam made the postman bring it down to me. They can be so embarrassing at times. So over protective, then flying off the handle the next.

Emma Mhic PA

Emma died on Sunday, aged 37, five months after being told her cancer was terminal. She was one of the 221 women who had been incorrectly cleared of precancerous abnormalities by the CervicalCheck smear tests, and who later contracted cancer. In Emma’s case, her smear tests had been read incorrectly twice.

These women were later told their tests were reviewed and found to be misinterpreted. 19 of those women, including Emma, have died. 

In June, Emma received a settlement of €7.5million in her High Court case against the HSE and Quest Diagnostics, the US laboratory that examined her smear tests.

She said afterwards that “it makes a big difference for all women because it’s a significant amount and it’s a kick in the profit of Quest, and they’re not going to like that”.

Emma is survived by her five children, Natasha, Seamus, Mario, Oisín and Donnacha.

After the funeral in Dublin, Emma will be laid to rest at Laragh Bryan Cemetery, Maynooth, Co Kildare, alongside her mother Annette.

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