Belfast Telegraph

Funeral of Goa murder victim Danielle McLaughlin hears she left a 'legacy of love'

'Just one encounter with her was enough to change someone’s life', Fr Bradley

By Claire Williamson

The funeral of backpacker Danielle McLaughlin, who was found murdered at an Indian beach resort, has heard the young woman left a "legacy of love".

Family and friends of the 28-year-old have asked mourners attending the ceremony in Buncrana, Co Donegal, to wear bright colours to "celebrate" her life.

Ms McLaughlin was travelling in Goa when she was killed earlier this month.

Her body was discovered in Canacona, a popular tourist area in the south of the Indian state.

Her funeral is taking place at the Cockhill Chapel in Buncrana at 11am.

Ms McLaughlin's close friends Christy Duffy and Louise McMenamin have asked those attending the funeral "not to abide by the usual dress code of black".

Her friends said while they were heartbroken, they want to honour her "kind and vibrant" personality.

"We are obviously heartbroken at the loss of our very close friend, but we would like to honour her in the way she would have liked, not focusing on the horrors of the world and giving in to hate, but honouring kindness and expressing our love for Danielle."

Father Francis Bradley told those gathered that Danielle was a "beautiful daughter, a cherished grand-daughter, a thoughtful sister, a loyal friend, a free-spirit, a remarkable classmate, a gentle neighbour; the little girl who became the lovely woman who was Danielle McLaughlin".

He told mourners how they cannot allow death to have the final word.

He said: "We try to get our heads around her loss.  Her death so young; the suddenness of it; its callous nature would leave us speechless were it not for the fact that we gather here too as a people of faith, hope and great love, determined that in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we, as his followers, can never allow death to have the final word. 

"Danielle herself, with her kindly heart and searching mind, would never countenance such a thing."

Fr Bradley told the congregation that Danielle's life was made up of "many journeys" but that it was in Buncrana that she found her home.

He said: "Strong and lasting friendships were forged here – the presence of so many of Danielle’s peers bear testimony to this. 

"She has been mourned by people of all ages who have been touched by her life and challenged by her death.  Although intensely private, Danielle has made a huge impression on people’s lives.  She was disarmingly kind and forgiving; her warm nature and open heart drew people into her ever-widening, extensive and international circle of friends. 

"A brief glance at the vast array of tender messages for Danielle’s mother Andrea, her family and friends, shows the immense esteem in which she was held.  She had a gentle but powerful way with her – for it seems that just one encounter with her was enough to change someone’s life."

Fr Bradley spoke of Danielle's "gentleness of heart" and how she had a "heart so forgiving that it healed the hurts of those around her".

He said: "Her legacy should be that of joy and thanksgiving and peace.  We cannot allow the brevity of Danielle’s life, or the malice which cut it short, to spoil her memory or impair her beauty."

Fr Bradley described Danielle as a "colourful character" who was a gifted student in dance and drama.

Danielle became a colourful character, like a gem which caught the light and reflected it in all its beauty around her.

Fr Bradley concluded: "Danielle has left a legacy of love; may she reap a harvest of peace."

Ms McLaughlin, who lived in Liverpool for a while as a student, was found dead in a secluded spot on Tuesday March 14.

A post-mortem examination later showed she had been sexually assaulted before being killed by blows to the head.

A 24-year-old man has been charged by Indian police who said he had confessed to the crime.

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