Belfast Telegraph

Ellen Finnegan's last words to father were 'I love you': Funeral of Castlewellan fire victim to take place on Tuesday

Castlewellan fire victim Ellen Finnegan's last words to her father were 'I love you', a priest has revealed.

The 19-year-old 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.

She was an A-Level student at Assumption Grammar and has just last week received offers for university.

Her funeral will take place on Tuesday, January 19 at St Malachy's Church in Castlewellan.

Ellen's remains will leave her grandfather's home at 11am for Requiem Mass at 12pm.

Burial will take place afterwards in Auglisnafin.

Fr Sean Rogan, who will be taking part in the funeral service, said the last thing Ellen did before she went to bed was to phone her father, Bartley, who was due to have gone skiing on the morning the tragedy happened.

She said: "I want to wish you dad a very, very happy time skiing and I want to tell you I love you, dad, I love you, I love you."

Fr 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".

The congregation sobbed as a framed portrait of Ellen was brought into the small chapel at Assumption Grammar School.

After prayers led by Fr Conor McCarthy, the students were encouraged to spend time remembering Ellen and to talk with other friends and teachers.

Speaking on BBC Good Morning Ulster today the headmistress of Assumption Grammar Marcelle Orsi described Ellen as a "warm, loving and generous student".

She said: "She lit up any classroom she entered, indeed any room she came into.

"She was very sporty in the junior school, excelled at netball and was an accomplished skieer.

"She achieved many successes in various fields.

"In terms of her every day behaviour in school she was very very popular and very well liked. It's just such a loss - we've really lost a very valued member of the community, our thoughts and prayers are with her close knit family. And especially her father who is grieving the loss of his beautiful young daughter."

She added: "She had just been accepted for Liverpool university. She just had heard word last week, she really enjoyed her sociology classes and was thinking of perhaps going down that field.

"With her personality I think she would have been great with PR and marketing things like that - she was such an affable and warm character."

"Everybody has come together and with social media people have been very vocal with their heartbreak.  It is just devastating and because the community are so close to Assumption, it's difficult to take in.

"They are just heartbroken it's very difficult for her year group and the year group from last year as well, the rippling effect throughout the community is incredible."

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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