A devastated mother who lost a second daughter to suicide has spoken of the tragic loss of the “lights of our lives”.
Shannon Gallagher — who would have been 16 on Christmas Day — was found dead at a house in Castlefin, Co Donegal, late on Wednesday night.
Her 13-year-old sister Erin took her own life in October after being systematically taunted on the website ask.fm.
The children's distraught mother Lorraine was being comforted at a wake at the family home in Ballybofey last night.
“Erin and Shannon were the lights of our lives,” the 36-year-old said.
“They were as close as any two sisters could be.
“We are just devastated by what has happened and we just can't say any more. We are all just numb.
“We are lost for words to describe how beautiful they were and what they meant to us.
“We just cannot understand what has happened or why it has happened. There are no answers. We just want time to grieve and to give Shannon a proper burial.
“We are asking people including the media to respect our privacy and allow us time to bury Shannon with respect and dignity.”
The family's solicitor Patsy Gallagher reiterated the family's plea for privacy at this time.
The teenagers' granddad James choked back tears as he said: “I've spoken to Lorraine and she is devastated beyond words.
“It's really hard to take in and we are just trying to get our heads around it.”
He is due to arrive from Scotland to help comfort his daughter.
“She was talking on Facebook with friends. She had been wrapping Christmas presents and was saying she had been missing her wee sister,” he said. “We are now preparing for another funeral this Saturday and I just don't know what to say. Lorraine was told about it on Wednesday night. It's just awful.”
Both girls had been students at Finn Valley College in Stranorlar. Parents at the school were left stunned by Shannon's death.
Shannon had spoken about missing her sister and had been dreading Christmas without her.
Erin had been tormented by online bullies.
Shannon will be buried alongside her sister after 11am Requiem Mass in Ballybofey tomorrow.
Thousands pay tribute online
There was an outpouring of grief for the two young sisters who both died by suicide.
Within hours of a Facebook page being set up in memory of the Gallagher girls almost 7,000 people had added their condolences.
Among the messages posted on the page wall are one which states:
“rest in peace girls! such sad news — together again! thoughts and prayers are with you both and also to the poor family! hope yous find peace in heaven. 2 beautiful angels — sleeptight wee pets!!”
A young male friend wrote: “RIP to the both of you's. Thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time..castle finn won't be the same. rest in peace girls”
A female friend added: “yous were two beautiful girls and i hope yous have found eachother and are happy, just wish yous would have known this wasnt the answer”