Belfast Telegraph

Ellen Finnegan family heartache as funeral held for Castlewellan fire victim

"Our memories of Ellen will always be young and vibrant", priest tells mourners

Hundreds of mourners at the funeral of 19-year-old Ellen Finnegan who died in a house fire heard how she will be remembered as "young and vibrant".

Ellen died after a fire broke out in the bedroom above her father's butcher's shop in Lower Square at around 4am on Saturday morning.

The student tragically lost her life on the third anniversary of her devoted mother's death from bowel cancer.

Hundreds of mourners have gathered today as the Assumption Grammar A-Level student is laid to rest.

Her funeral was held today at St Malachy's Church in Castlewellan.

Ellen's remains left her grandfather's home at 11am for Requiem Mass at 12pm and people lined the street in an emotional farewell to the teenager.

Father Sean Cahill told those gathered that "words are nearly impossible to find after an unexpected and untimely death".

He told mourners that of the "joy" Ellen had in life and of the touching last conversation she had with her father Bartley.

He told the congregation: "Ellen hadn't had time to find her way in life, even if university places were opening up for her, she had no time to plan the bright career she might have embarked on.

"Given Ellen's talents and personality she would have had a career in public relations, social services, communications, management. All careers like that opening up that were so closed so dramatically.

"I know how Bartley cherishes the last conversation he had with his only daughter.

"I was privileged to witness that paternal pride and joy when I served in this parish from 2000 to 2010. I believe it was very special for you Bartley to be able to cherish that message, she wished you a good holiday on your planned trip, "I love you daddy, daddy I love you.

"Ellen loved and was loved so deeply thank God.

"The joy that Ellen had in life, the joy."

He continued: "Our memories of Ellen will always be young and vibrant, her school friends and teachers speak of her as lighting up any classroom she entered.

"Her family and friends tell of her enthusiasm for sport especially, her competence on the ski slopes, playing camogie and football.

"Her endurance and stamina for cross country running.

"So what does death to to life, what does Ellen's death to our lives. I suggest death makes life precious.

"The moment of disaster on Saturday which we all feel so intensely is a constant reminder of  our own mortality. It's also an invitation for us to give thanksgiving to God for the life he's given each one of us and the possibility for doing good and caring for others."

Burial took place afterwards in Auglisnafin.

Speaking previously Fr Sean Rogan said that if there is any solace at all for Bartley Finnegan at this time, that perhaps is one of the things that he will always, always appreciate. The priest added that Ellen had been "vibrant, full of joy, full of happiness, full of fun".

On Sunday a special service took place at her school where staff and pupils gathered to remember the 19-year-old and a book of condolence was opened.

A lifelong friend of the teenager told how she joked with her just hours before she died - calling her "one of a kind".

Belfast Telegraph Digital


From Belfast Telegraph