A choir sang its heart out yesterday for the Republic’s first swine flu victim Darina Calpin — a “beautiful princess” — who defied serious illness to be church organist and the choir's musical director from a young age.
Ms Calpin (18) was laid to rest in a white coffin following Requiem Mass attended by hundreds of mourners in her native Templeboy in west Sligo. The gifted teenager who suffered from Cystic Fibrosis and was awaiting her Leaving Certificate results tomorrow, died at the National Children's Hospital in Dublin last Friday from human swine flu.
Leading mourners at the Church of the Immaculate Conception were her grief stricken parents Pat and Mary, brothers Padraig and Gavin and sister, Ciara while hundreds of grieving school pals from St Mary's College Ballysadare formed a guard of honour outside and inside the thronged church.
In the words of her brother Padraig, she was “too good for this world” and had been loved and cherished by all who were privileged enough to have known her.
“From her earliest days, Darina showed signs she wasn't going to take a back seat in the journey of life, with her natural skills and talents, her impish good humour, her sense of friendship, drive and determination.
“She loved life. Despite her illness she never complained and as recently as last week had enjoyed her 18th birthday with a number of her friends.
“She was really looking forward to her upcoming graduation ball later this month,” he told a weeping congregation.
Not content to focus solely on schoolwork, Darina had immersed herself in extra curricular activities showing her pluck and natural leadership skills by becoming the church organist at just 12 years of age and musical director of the choir some time later.
She took her music duties so seriously that she often left her treatment in Tallaght hospital to return to direct the choir for some important church celebrations, most recently First Holy Communion last May. He spoke proudly and movingly of his sister's “constant focus and gritty determination”, being the only student in her Leaving Certificate year to successfully complete the president's silver An Gaisce award.
“Even in ill health this was typical, always striving to go one better than everyone else,” he said.