Belfast Telegraph

Mum-of-five Geraldine McKay is laid to rest just weeks after her sister's death

Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

The loss of two sisters in a matter of weeks because of drugs is "beyond words," mourners heard yesterday.

Mother-of-five Geraldine McKay (28) was found dead in her Suffolk Road home in west Belfast last Saturday, May 4.

Her funeral was held yesterday afternoon in St Michael The Archangel Church. The same west Belfast church had also held the funeral for Geraldine's older sister Bridget (30), who had four children, who was found in her flat in the New Lodge area on April 11.

Family members comforted each other yesterday as they walked behind the funeral cortege.

Edward McKay (front right) carries his daughter's coffin
Edward McKay (front right) carries his daughter's coffin

Parish Priest Fr Ciaran Feeney led the service and expressed his condolences to the sisters' father, Edward, and the wider family.

"The death of a young mother of 28 years of age is a terrible shock, but to be so soon, a matter of weeks after Bridget's death, is really beyond words," he said.

The family had already suffered tragedy in the past after the death of their mother Catherine.

"If we want to be present with Geraldine we simply have to pray for her. Because wherever God is Geraldine is, Bridget is, Catherine is," said Fr Feeney.

The priest added that he hoped the family could take comfort in the many happy memories Geraldine had also left with them.

"All the suffering that Geraldine has had to endure is gone," he said.

"Those days, and I'm sure there have been many days in Geraldine's life, where there has been darkness and misery, where time stands still. Those days are gone.

"When we think of Geraldine we have so man y good things to think about. Her beautiful smile, she was always funny.

"One of the wonderful things about Geraldine was that she never allowed the child inside her to die.

Friends and family carry the coffin at Geraldine McKay's funeral
Friends and family carry the coffin at Geraldine McKay's funeral

"She always had a childlike quality in her.

"If we are to hold on to any memory at all, it is the happiest we ever remember Geraldine being. Because that memory is a dim reflection of the happiness she now has."

During the service, many of the family gave readings, including Geraldine and Bridget's sisters Kelly and Sinead.

On Thursday, Sinead and her father's partner Claire Rea told the Belfast Telegraph there was an urgent need for greater support for addiction and mental health services.

Sinead (18) said that her sisters had been "very caring and kind" towards them.

"(People with addictions and mental health issues) want help, they want signed in, but they're turned away too often," she said.

"There's usually a six-month wait. It shouldn't be like that - it should be straight away.

"It can change a family and it destroys a family. You don't see the same person anymore."

Her sister Claire called them "the loveliest, happiest girls" who became overwhelmed by their addictions.

"We don't know the facts about how it started with them, but once it got a hold of them it wouldn't let go," she said.

She urged others who struggle with addiction to reject drugs and seek help.

"Once they start, their family can see them deteriorating in front of their eyes," she said.

Donations in lieu of flowers have been requested for Addiction NI.

If you, or anyone close to you, is affected by any of the issues in this article, contact the Samaritans free on 116123 or Lifeline on 0808 808 8000

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