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Irish bride-to-be Majella (30) dies after falling ill on dream holiday flight from South Africa

By Tom Shiel and Luke Byrne

Published 18/11/2016

Majella and her fiancé Barry
Majella and her fiancé Barry

A young woman who had just become engaged to her boyfriend has died after falling ill on the flight home from a dream holiday.

Majella Donoghue (30), from Tirrane, Belmullet, on the Erris Peninsula, Co Mayo, was with her fiancé on a return flight from South Africa when tragedy struck.

It is understood that Ms Donoghue, described as "vivacious and kind-hearted", may have suffered a problem with her lungs during the flight.

Her devastated family and the community in the seaside parish of Belmullet have been waiting to receive her remains.

She was attended to by her fiancé Barry Doherty and flight staff when she suddenly became seriously ill on the flight from Capetown to London Heathrow.

When the plane touched down on Sunday last, an ambulance was waiting to take her to hospital.

She died later in hospital with her grief-stricken fiancé by her side as well as a family member who had rushed over from Ireland.

It is understood that a post-mortem has been carried out but the results are not yet available. Ms Donoghue's remains are still in London.

In the past few days, people have been flocking in large numbers to the Donoghue family home to sympathise with her mother Mary, twin brother Stephen, other brothers Tommy, David and Brendan and her sister Angela.

Ms Donoghue, who worked as a talent acquisition specialist at Galway city-based firm Boston Scientific, was predeceased by her father Willie some years ago.

Local priest Fr John Loftus said yesterday that the community was numbed by the sudden death of a young woman who was "pleasant, considerate and kind".

"Just to meet Majella would put you in good form," he added.

Fr Loftus said Ms Donoghue was always mindful of her family, travelling home frequently to visit and help her mother attend to the cleaning and decorative needs of their local Tirrane church.

"She had a social conscience," he added. "Her good deeds spanned the world. She worked in Vietnam on charity purposes at one stage."

Local county councillor Gerry Coyle recalled that Ms Donoghue once worked in Costcutters Supermarket, Belmullet. "She was highly thought of, very approachable," he said.

While in Capetown, Ms Donoghue and Mr Doherty visited her godparents and the couple became engaged.

"What should be a very happy time for the family and community is now clouded in sadness," Mr Coyle added.

Ms Donoghue also worked as an advocacy volunteer for the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children as well as for the Christina Noble Children's Foundation.

In her earlier career days, she produced a documentary on Wolverhampton Wanderers aimed at promoting the football club and increasing its fan base.

Ms Donoghue had also worked for the Galway Advertiser newspaper, along with her fiancé.

Its editor, Declan Varley, paid tribute to her yesterday and spoke of her popularity.

"Majella and Barry both worked with the Advertiser and were both very popular colleagues," he said.

"Majella had a great air of positivity about her. For her, everything was about possibility and goodness.

"She lit up her workplace with her smile and her happiness.

"News of her untimely death has placed a cloud of sadness over us all this week."

He added: "She lit up our lives for just a short while and we are very saddened. We cannot but imagine the pain that her family and Barry are suffering. Our thoughts are with them. I hope that it is some consolation that she illuminated so many places and contributed so much goodness in her short life."

Irish Independent

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