Belfast Telegraph

Tributes and many tears as 'beautiful princess' Lesley-ann McCarragher is laid to rest

By Allan Preston

The sisters of 19-year-old Lesley-Ann McCarragher broke down in tears as they arrived for the funeral of a "beautiful princess" who was in "the wrong place at the wrong time".

Inside First Presbyterian Church, Armagh, which overlooks the city's famous Mall, more than 400 mourners arrived to say goodbye to the hit-and-run victim.

Pictures were projected on two large screens showing an always smiling Lesley-Ann growing up and enjoying life with her sisters and cousins.

As her flower-covered coffin was carried in, Lesley-Ann's parents Liz and James were followed by grieving siblings Judith (21) and twins Amy and Beth (15), who comforted each other as they made their way to the front of the church.

Emma Monaghan, Lesley-Ann's cousin, did a scripture reading and through tears told the congregation: "Lesley-Ann will forever be my best friend and cousin and our beautiful princess. We love you."

The Rev Tony Davidson, who baptised Lesley-Ann as a baby in the same church almost 20 years ago, delivered a powerful eulogy to the teenager.

He began with her final moments on Saturday afternoon before she was knocked down and fatally injured while out running close to her family farm in Milford.

"At 12 noon on Saturday Lesley-Ann McCarragher slipped on her running gear. She stepped out of the house and she ran. It has been reported that she was jogging. For the record Lesley-Ann did not jog, Lesley-Ann did power running.

"She ran fast with music in her ears, a smile upon her face, elegance in her stride, joy in her heart. Her legs pumped, her arms flailed, her ponytail bobbed.

"Sadly, she did not return, her life was tragically cut short, and in one second everything changed - Lesley-Ann was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Rev Davidson told mourners that Lesley-Ann had planned to enjoy lunch with her family that day and spend the afternoon studying before dressing up to go out for dinner.

He praised her parents for providing a happy life for their daughter.

"Lesley-Ann felt loved, appreciated and nurtured in your home," he said.

"It was in your home she learnt to share with her sisters, stand up for herself sometimes, and welcome others."

Rev Davidson described the 19-year-old as "the daughter in the family who did not mind donning the welly boots and giving (her dad) a hand with milking the cows".

"She was not afraid to get her hands dirty, but Lesley-Ann was also the daughter who most dominated the bathroom, taking longest to prepare herself for a night out. She was an expert in all things fashionable. Enjoying her shopping trips for high-heeled shoes and clothes."

With a wide family circle living in the Milford area, Lesley-Ann enjoyed a close relationship with her aunts and uncles and had a ready-made group of friends, with many cousins her own age.

She had recently attended a concert of her favourite group Snow Patrol with her cousin Emma.

Rev Davidson read lyrics from the Snow Patrol song This Isn't Everything You Are, which he said were now "poignantly appropriate".

Referring to one line - 'Then in one little moment, it all implodes, this isn't everything you are' - he spoke of the great support provided to the McCarraghers in their grief, saying "we are heartbroken, we are distraught, but this isn't everything we are".

A former head girl at Armagh High School, the church heard how the "quiet, unassuming" bookworm had thrown herself into her new life as a food technology student at Cookstown's Loughry College. She had won a scholarship as the top student in her class and had dreams of travelling to the United States for further study in Michigan.

He spoke of how "every minute of Lesley-Ann's week was accounted for" with her studies, love of hockey, football and many friends.

"Her achievements were masked by her humility, bubbly personality, beautiful smile and hearty laugh," Rev Davidson said.

"On Saturday morning she was ready to take on the next challenges in the race of life."

Following the service the funeral cortege proceeded for interment at Aghavilly parish churchyard, which is close to the McCarraghers' dairy farm in Milford.

Outside the church the mourners included pupils from her former schools and team-mates from Mid-Ulster Ladies Football Club, where this year she had made the latest in a long line of friends.

A 17-year-old boy has been charged with causing her death by dangerous driving while racing a white Saab on Saturday afternoon.

Police have appealed for the driver of a black Volkswagen Golf to come forward.

Belfast Telegraph

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