Hundreds of mourners gathered at a Co Donegal church yesterday to pay their last respects to a baby girl who was killed when she was run over by her father in a tragic accident.
More than 1,200 people attended the funeral Mass of Lisa Gallagher at St Eunan’s Cathedral, Letterkenny, just a week short of the first anniversary of her baptism.
Although only 13 months old, little Lisa was a regular visitor at the altar of the cathedral.
Fr Willie Bradley recalled that she was often carried in the arms of her parents or grandparents when they were receiving Holy Communion.
He said: “When I saw her little face after the tragic accident that claimed her life I recognised little Lisa as someone in the arms of someone else at communion time.
“She would smile as she received a blessing. It’s so sad, so devastating for a family to lose a little treasure like that at the age of 13 months.”
Lisa died at her home at Drumerdagh, Letterkenny, on Friday evening. Her 34-year-old father Adrian reversed the car around the side of the house unaware his child, who only started walking two weeks ago, was in the garden. Gardai called it “a terrible accident”.
Her mother Carmel was nearby and Lisa’s brother Conor (4), was playing with children next door.
Both her parents and little Conor, carrying his pet teddy, accompanied Lisa’s tiny white casket the length of the aisle for the start of the funeral Mass.
Fr Bradley and eight other white-robed priests, one carrying a tall cross, met the funeral at the front door and led it to the altar.
Heartbroken Carmel, who is expecting her third child in about two weeks, kept stroking the lid of the casket.
Behind, grandparents Eddie and Sheila Gallagher and Paddy and Dorothy Maguire led mourning relatives from Letterkenny, where Carmel is from, and the Falcarragh-Gortahork area, where computer operator Adrian is from.
A violin and guitar were played and hymns were sung by children.
Lisa’s godfather, her uncle Laurence Maguire, fought back tears as he read a prayer from the pulpit.
Fr Bradley recalled that next Monday, August 2, would have been the first anniversary of Lisa’s baptism at the same altar.
He said: “Everyone here is short of words to express what they feel for the family’s pain. But there’s no need to pray for Lisa. She is gone straight to God. She is directly in the presence of the Lord praying right now for all the pain in your hearts.”
The priest said that although Lisa’s life was short she left many memories. Her family would remember when she began to crawl, her first words, her first steps, the first time she said mum and dad.”
He added: “They will remember the first time she had her father and mother twisted around her little finger. She was loved and devoted by her family and extended family.
“She responded to the love of her parents. She was the centre of attention in her family and she knew that.”
After the funeral Mass, Lisa was buried at Conwall cemetery in Letterkenny.