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Picture of the week: Tragic Ellen mourned by thousands

By Kerry McKittrick

Thousands of mourners follow the flower-festooned coffin of Ellen Finnegan at her funeral in Castlewellan on Tuesday.

The 19-year-old died when a fire broke out in the living quarters above her father's butcher's shop in the town.

Ellen was asleep in one of the bedrooms and despite fire fighters' best efforts could not be saved.

This tragic loss of a young life was made all the more poignant when it was revealed that Ellen's mother Nicola had died on the same day - January 16 - three years earlier after battling bowel cancer.

Ellen was an Upper Sixth pupil at Assumption Grammar School, where she was repeating her final year to ensure that she was able to get a good place at a university.

Before her death, Ellen had received three offers for university places and she was planning to study business at Liverpool.

Since the tragedy dozens of floral tributes have been left outside the butcher's shop and family home where the fire broke out - a broken window a sombre reminder of the events that had taken place.

The cause of the fire has not yet been discovered, however, it is not believed to have been suspicious.

Ellen has been described as vibrant and full of fun, with tributes from friends, members of the community and the teaching staff at Assumption Grammar flooding in.

On Thursday, Castewellan came to a standstill for the Requiem Mass held at St Malachy's Church on Main Street, with the choir of Assumption Grammar singing in tribute to their friend.

The service was attended by thousands, including pupils of Ellen's school and members of the Castlewellan GAA club who lined the route.

During the funeral, the priest asked the congregation to pray for her father Bartley, who has now lost his wife and his only child.

He also prayed for the fire and paramedic crews who fought to save Ellen's life.

After the service Bartley was one of the mourners to carry his daughter to her final resting place at Aughlisnafin.

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