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The coffins of Una Bowden and her daughters, Ciara and Saoirse, leave St Eunan’s Church in Raphoe Niall Carson via PA

‘My world is so empty’: Husband and father says at funeral for those killed in Co Mayo crash

Una Bowden and her daughters Ciara, 14, and Saoirse, 10, died in a car crash in Co Mayo on 26 March.

A MAN WHOSE wife and two young daughters were killed in a crash has said he lost his “whole family in one go”.

Una Bowden and her daughters Ciara, 14, and Saoirse, 10, died when the car they were in collided with a lorry in the Castlegar area, outside Claremorris, Co Mayo, on Tuesday 26 March.

The crash shocked the town and also devastated the Moycullen area in Co Galway, where the family lived and were active in the community and sporting groups.

A Requiem Mass was held at St Eunan’s Church in Mrs Bowden’s father’s home town of Raphoe, Co Donegal, on Wednesday.

The three hearses drove past people lining the roadside and arrived at the church to the sound of bells just before noon.

Inside, flowers and pictures of Mrs Bowden and the girls were placed their individual coffins, with sports jerseys also put on Ciara and Saoirse’s coffins.

Bowden family death

Mrs Bowden’s husband, David, the father of the two girls, said: “They were all such beautiful girls who lived short but full, happy and such fun-filled lives.”

In a eulogy written by him but read by his brother, Andrew, Mr Bowden said of his wife: “She truly was an excellent mother, and she truly was quite feisty. But, most of all, she was beautiful.

“Our two gorgeous girls were her world. Una was my soulmate, my confidante, and my world is so empty without her.”

Recalling their lives in both Zambia and Galway, he said she was a “tough cookie” who won a battle with breast cancer.

He added that his daughters had thrived in the “wonderful community” of Moycullen.

Mr Bowden, who was working in Ethiopia when the crash happened, said he had already been booked to fly back to the family’s newly renovated home on the same day he received the tragic news of their deaths.

Paying tribute to his girls’ sporting ability and individual interests, he said Ciara was a “wonderful girl turning into the most beautiful woman”.

He added: “Saoirse was the quirkiest, kindest little girl.”

Ciara’s school friend Amelie said they would be “best friends” for the rest of her life.

She said: “Ciara had this incredible joy and excitement for life. She had an impact on absolutely everybody she ever met.

Just seeing her smile could make your day 10 times better.

She added: “Ciara’s youngest sister Saoirse looked up to Ciara. They loved each other so much.”

Parish priest Father Eamonn Kelly said the mother and daughters were ordinary people going about their ordinary lives which were unfortunately “cut short” by the crash.

“What would we not give to see again one of their smiles?

“What a terrible tragedy to happen to a family as a dad looked forward to coming home to a family with his girls – and his girls looking forward to sharing time with their dad in their just-finished new house.

But in a split second life was changed forever.

Fr Kelly said Mr Bowden has been “painfully robbed” of his wife and daughters.

He added that the community will also support Mrs Bowden’s father, John, and his partner, Jill, as well as Mr Bowden’s parents, Gus and Eileen.

He also paid tribute to Mrs Bowden’s sisters, Eimear and Catriona, as well as her brother-in-law, Andrew.

He went on: “Words such as heartache, grief and sorrow do not capture the emptiness, the pain, the unfairness, the lousiness of what took place that day just outside of Claremorris.”

Fr Kelly described Mrs Bowden as a “no-nonsense, serial degree-getter” who made friends easily.

He said she had fallen “head over heels” with Mr Bowden, adding that she had a “good influence on so many”.

Fr Kelly noted that Ciara had turned 14 on 5 March.

He described her as an “ever-watchful big sister” and “team player” who was crazy about dogs, including her own two Scottish terriers which were also killed in the crash.

“Ciara was quite brilliant at art and excelled at sport, including gaelic, handball, rugby and was recently selected on the Galway under-14 basketball team,” he said.

Remembering Saoirse, he said:

Wee Saoirse was the biggest Harry Potter fan in the whole wide world.

“She was not as outgoing as her big sister, but, when you got to know her, you found the funniest smart comments and a very quirky sense of humour.

“She loved animals, especially cats, and was most definitely the cat person of the family.

“She was a very good, solid wee thinker and loved creating and making with Lego.”

Fr Kelly also appealed to children, particularly those who attend Scoil Naomh Bride and Scoil Mhuire in Moycullen as well as Salerno Secondary School in Salthill, to share their feelings by talking with their friends.

“I invite you to remember the funny moments, the silly moments, the ‘we-nearly-got-caught’ moments. Laugh and cry with your friends about these things.

Talk to your teachers and ask them how they are doing.

“Chatting, remembering, sometimes crying, sometimes hugging – all of us will get the courage to face the future.”

After the Mass, Mrs Bowden and her daughters were to be interred in the family plot in the old graveyard in Convoy.

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