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Tuesday 28 November 2023 Dublin: 3°C

'A country girl – big hopes, big plans': Karen Buckley is laid to rest in Cork

Karen’s three brothers presented symbols of their sister to the alter to represent her life.

Updated 17.43

Karen Buckley Funeral. Hundreds of mourn Eamonn Farrell / Photocall Ireland Brothers Brendan and Kieran carry the coffin as nursing students from UL form a guard of honour. Eamonn Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

THE FUNERAL MASS of Karen Buckley was held in County Cork this afternoon.

Karen Buckley was reported missing in Glasgow on 11 April, and her remains found later that week.

A 21-year-old man, Alexander Pacteau, has been charged with the woman’s murder.

Karen’s parents John and Marian, and brothers Brendan, Kieran and Damien attended the Church of Saint Michael the Archangel, Analeentha, in the parish of Mourneabbey.

Before the mass, items presented to the altar by Karen’s three brothers include a photo, dress, and nursing uniform, to represent their sister’s personality, achievements and her love for life.

Her brothers 

Karen Buckley funeral PA Wire / Press Association Images The hearse carrying the coffin of Karen Buckley is flanked by nurses from her University of Limerick graduation year. PA Wire / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

A photo of Karen’s first day in Analeentha National School was presented where “she began her education, and developed a love for learning”.

Most recently Karen was studying for her Masters in Occupational Health Therapy.

Her brother, Kieran, brought up Karen’s nursing uniform. Karen graduated as a nurse in 2014.

Her cousin, Padraig Hurley, said she was known for being “a kind and caring nurse whose smile would light up the ward”.

Her brother, Damien, brought up Karen’s favourite dress that she wore to her brother’s wedding Brendan.

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

During the Homily, Father Joseph O’Keeffe said “death is sad at any age, but our feelings concerning death are not always of the same degree”.

Karen Buckley death PA Wire / Press Association Images Tributes left during a silent vigil in Scotland for Karen Buckley. PA Wire / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

‘Young life cut short’

Here is the homily in full:

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. My thoughts in this hour revolve around three words: The first has to do with Time.
In the Scriptures the book of Ecclesiastes speaks of life within a framework of time. It says, “There is a right time for everything.” And then it gives us a long list of events for which there is an appropriate time. At the top of the list is this statement: “A time to be born, a time to die”. And this is what confuses us now. Karen’s death seems so utterly inappropriate. It violates our sense of order. In OUR view of life, death and childhood are poles apart, and twenty-four years simply does not seem the right time to die – it does not seem to add up.
My second thought is about Tears. 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/she tangles his/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.
But my final word is the one, I feel, we most need to hear. It is Faith. 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.
Others before us have faced this same tragedy and have opted in favour of faith. When David, King of Israel, lost his baby boy, he somehow pulled himself together and went on with the business of living. People wondered why and how, and he answered, “I cannot bring him back, but I can go to be with him”.
When the poet, Edgar Guest, lost his daughter, he composed the poem, “If They Could Write”.  It reads:

“What glorious news they’d have to tell

If only they could write today,

Those who have gone afar to dwell

Where all the glorious spirits stay.

In fancy then I set it down

What Marjorie would pen to me –

“I’ve touched the hem of Jesus’ gown

The way they did in Galilee.

And thinking thus, I am content

To bear the loneliness and wait,

Because I know her days are spent

In all the company of the great.”

King David said what he said by faith and, Edgar Guest wrote what he wrote by faith. And, we ourselves must master this moment by faith in the Risen/Living Christ, who has conquered death, and who cares for Karen infinitely more than any of us ever could. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said it like this:

“She is not dead, this child of our affection,

But gone unto that school

Where she no longer needs our protection,

And Christ himself does rule.”

Through travelling extensively Karen reached many a destination.  Shortly, we will travel with her mortal remains on her last earthly journey. We pray Karen has already reached her final destination and that she has touched the hem of Jesus’ gown and is with God in heaven. May her loving, caring and gentle soul rest in peace. Amen.

Karen Buckley Funeral. Hundreds of mourn Eamonn Farrell / Photocall Ireland Nursing students from UL form a guard of honour outside the church. Eamonn Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

Prayers of the Faithful were read by Karen’s cousins and friends, who prayed for for Karen’s family and the emergency services and police in Scotland.

The Offertory Procession of the bread and wine was given by Karen’s parents, John and Marian.

A poem for Karen

The Communion Reflection was given by her cousin, Siobhan Leahy, who read the following poem, entitled ‘Karen’:

Small and gentle, Honest and true, Our sister Karen, How much we will miss you. These days gone by, Have only showed, The love for you, That this world holds. From green country fields, A small country school, To a national university, And international studies too.A nurse with plans,A woman full of dreams,

An adventurer who travelled,

And in fun and laughter revelled.

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.

How great you loved,

How much you cared,

How much you gave,

How much you shared.

Sleep easy Karen, you’re now at rest,

Throughout your life you gave your best,

How much we miss you, we can’t fully express.

We love you Karen.

Music such as, ‘Be Still for the Presence of the Lord’ featured during the mass.

While during the post final commendation prayers, ‘Goodbye My Angel by Celtic Woman’ was sung by soloist Carmel Breen. 

The recessional hymn ‘May the Road Rise to Meet You’ was sung as Karen’s remains were carried from the church.

There was a large attendance at the church, which had a limited capacity of 300 seats.

A public address system relayed the Mass to those attending outside of the church.

Karen’s remains  were interred in Burnfort Cemetery.

Read: Large crowds gather for removal of Karen Buckley>

Read:Karen Buckley died of “head and neck injuries”>