Young people gathered at the funeral Mass of Orla O’Malley were urged to live life to the full but asked to remember to never to put their lives or others in danger.
The 20-year-old student was pronounced dead Tuesday morning last from the injuries she sustained in a single vehicle accident in Tourmakeady in the early hours of Sunday, June 4.
The week before the funeral, The Church of the Sacred Heart in Cross was a place of joy as the community celebrated the 125th anniversary of the building of the tiny limestone church. The buntings of the celebration were still evident but that joy was replaced by the sadness of many young people as they grieved that loss of their friend who was a student nurse in NUI Galway.
Addressing her friends in his homily, Fr Paddy Gilligan, PP, appealed for young people not to do anything which would bring sorrow and pain to families.
“We are not gathered in judgement and blame but to grieve and also remember a young beautiful girl, Orla O’Malley. A lady who has gone too soon and we will always miss her smile, her vest for life, and sense of fun.
“I say to all of the friends and colleagues of Orla today to take inspiration from her and the best way to honour her is to make the best use of the gifts given to you by God. To live life to the full, become the best that you can be and follow her example. Give it everything whatever it is whether it is sport, your career or friendship.
“But you have to promise that you will not do anything to put your own life or the life of others at risk which might cause such pain and heartbreak that you see here today,” he said.
The Church of the Sacred Heart in Cross was packed with many more standing outside as they gathered to express sympathy and solidarity with Orla’s parents, Michael and Dolores; brother, Shane; grandparents John and Mary O’Malley, and grandmother, Maureen Tobin.
The Mass was also concelebrated by Fr Ger Burns, PP of Clonbur, who two days previously had celebrated at the Funeral Mass of Seán Halloran who also died in the accident. Prayers were also said for Mr Halloran who was buried in Rosshill Cemetery following his Funeral Mass in St Patrick’s Church, Clonbur.
Mr Halloran was a front seat passenger in the car which left the road and struck a wall at Churchfield, Tourmakeady at 4am on Sunday morning. Ms O’Malley was in the back seat of the car and was on life support for two days in Mayo University Hospital before dying from her injuries. The driver of the car was also seriously injured in the accident but his injuries were described as not life threatening and he has now left hospital.
Guard of honour
As the funeral cortege arrived at the church before the Mass, the hearse was flanked by members of The Neale GAA club with whom Orla played football. Her love of sport was represented during the funeral when her number 9 GAA jersey was among the gifts brought to the offertory.
When Orla was a pupil in Cross National School, she was on the team which won the All-Ireland Community Games table tennis competition and her table tennis bat was also among the gifts presented.
Fr Gilligan told the congregation that the death has cast a dark cloud over the community and described a parent having to bury their child as going against the natural order. While he was in hospital he said he spoke to a woman whose son died in a road traffic accident ten years ago. When he asked what she would say to Orla’s parents, her advise was, ‘no matter how awful it seems now, tell them that they will cope’.
Fr Gilligan also added that her death was also a death of hope.
“We reflect here on the hope of what was to be. The hope she would meet and marry someone she would love and be loved by. The hope of children to nurture and care … she would live to be a good age with grandchildren. As we come here today we are grieving the loss of hope and the loss of what might have been.” Following the Funeral Mass, burial took place in Cross East Cemetery.