The Parish Priest of the 11-year-old girl who died after being struck by a car has spoken of a happy, gifted child with a bright future ahead.
Rachael McConville was knocked down by a Volkswagen People Carrier as she walked along Castlewellan Road, Rathfriland, shortly before 4.30pm on Tuesday.
She was rushed to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry before being transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast, where she died at 1am the following day.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Father Stephen Ferris, who was with Rachael’s family when she passed away, said the local community was in shock.
“Rachael was a happy child,” he said. “She was intelligent and talented.
“She loved her family and her friends and she had tremendous potential.
“She was living life and enjoying it to the full. Her death has traumatised our close-knit, country parish; it has numbed everyone.”
He added: “The community is standing by each other and helping each other through this difficult time.”
Fr Ferris, who has spent time with Rachael’s family — mum Amanda, dad Paddy and two young brothers, Shea (10) and three-year-old Oran — since the tragedy happened, will say the funeral Mass at the weekend.
The young Rathfriland girl was a first year pupil at Sacred Heart Grammar School in Newry at the time of the accident.
Before that, she attended St Patrick’s Primary School in Drumgreenagh, where Fr Ferris is chaplain, and was an altar server in the local chapel.
Her funeral Mass will be held tomorrow at St John’s Church in Hilltown at 1pm, followed by burial at St Patrick’s cemetery in Drumgath.
“Rachael was a great singer and a very big part of the Primary School choir, who will be singing at Mass on Saturday as a |lovely tribute to their past pupil,” said Fr Ferris.
SDLP councillor Seamus Doyle said Rachael’s sudden death had come as a shock.
“I have to extend my sympathy to Rachael’s family following this tragedy,” he said.
“It is very tragic for a young person to lose their life in this way.”
Meanwhile, a 19-year-old man lost his life in a car crash in Co Antrim on Wednesday.
Gary Walker, from the Carrickfergus area, was the only occupant of a Renault Clio which left Low Road in Islandmagee and hit a tree around 10pm. His death brings to 30 the number of people killed on Northern Ireland’s roads so far this year.
The Mayor of Carrickfergus expressed her sympathies to Mr Walker’s family.
“This is a terrible tragedy to have such a young life lost in such tragic circumstances,” she said.
“I would like to express my condolences and sympathies to the family involved.”