‘SHE WAS LIKE A STAR’

Emma Mhic Mhathúna 1981-2018

The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - BY TADHG EVANS

IT was an im­age that moved those in Séipéal na Car­raige to tears yes­ter­day, and one that brought the mag­ni­tude of the Cer­vi­cal Check scan­dal into full view: that of Emma Mhic Mhathúna’s son, Don­nacha, sit­ting on her cof­fin as it was wheeled from the Church.

The res­i­dent of Baile na nGall passed away on Sun­day at Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal Kerry, some five years af­ter she was in­cor­rectly given the all-clear by a 2013 smear test. The Mass fea­tured much of what made Ms Mhic Mhathúna fall for Corca Dhuib­hne: its song and its mu­sic were prom­i­nent through­out, while the cer­e­mony was car­ried out en­tirely through Ir­ish by An tAthair Eoghan Ó Cadhla and con-cel­e­brants Frs Tomás Ó hIcí and Jim Sheehy. Fit­tingly, An tAthair Ó Cadhla de­scribed her as “like a star”.

She will be laid to rest later to­day at Laragh Bryan Cemetery, Maynooth, County Kil­dare, af­ter Fu­neral Mass at St Mary’s Pro Cathe­dral, Dublin. Her cortège will pass Le­in­ster House and the De­part­ment of Health.

THE defin­ing im­age of Emma Mhic Mhathúna’s Fu­neral Mass at Séipéal na Car­raige yes­ter­day was that of her son, Don­nacha, sit­ting on her cof­fin as it was wheeled through the aisle.

It was, as her friend, Juli Malone, put it af­ter­wards, a scene that should never have hap­pened; his mother died on Sun­day, some five years af­ter she was in­cor­rectly given the all-clear by a 2013 smear test.

Mourn­ers broke down as the cof­fin made its way to the front door and into the strong­est of Corca Dhuib­hne gales. The weather was bit­ter, even for this part of the world; it felt as though the re­gion, one she loved and lived in for too short a time, was of­fer­ing her its fi­nal salute.

An tAthair Eoghan Ó Cadhla, who con-cel­e­brated the Mass with Frs Tomás Ó hIcí and Jim Sheehy, was say­ing the Rosary in Cuas an Bho­daigh on Sun­day evening when he first heard that Emma had died. It came as a shock: “I met her last week, and she was weak; but I didn’t ex­pect her to go so sud­denly.

“Look­ing out at the sea, you couldn’t help but re­mem­ber St Bren­dan who, ac­cord­ing to tra­di­tion, sailed the ocean [from Cuas an Bho­daigh].

“Some­times life has been com­pared to a jour­ney by sea: very calm at times, but sud­denly a storm will break up...but we be­lieve the Lord is with us, and Emma al­ways had that faith”.

That faith was in­deed a sus­tain­ing part of Emma’s short life, and that and her love for Corca Dhuib­hne – with its unique blend of mu­sic, lan­guage, sport, and culture – was at the heart of the Mass.

The cer­e­mony was car­ried out en­tirely through Ir­ish, while Cóir Dhuib­hne joined a range of mu­si­cians and schoolchil­dren in deep­en­ing west Kerry’s im­print on the oc­ca­sion.

A beau­ti­ful of­fer­tory pro­ces­sion saw items, in­clud­ing a bust of Emma, car­ried to the al­tar, as well as the red fuch­sia: a com­mon sight in Corca Dhuib­hne, and a re­minder to An tAthair Ó Cadhla of the red dress Emma wore as she took to the steps of the High Court.

An An Ghaeltacht jer­sey was also car­ried up, and the club’s theme – sprid, chroí, caid, teanga; spirit, heart, foot­ball, lan­guage – never felt more fit­ting.

But her great­est love was for her chil­dren. The fi­nal gift was a fam­ily pho­to­graph, and her chil­dren were to the fore of the Mass; they took part in the of­fer­tory pro­ces­sion, and her son, Mario, gave the sec­ond read­ing. It was, an tAthair Ó Cadhla said, as she would have wished it to be.

“They are re­ally the most beau­ti­ful, man­nerly chil­dren, and ev­ery­one who knows them says the same...And the gifts she was given, she used not for her­self but for her chil­dren. She was a very lov­ing mother.

“Some peo­ple come to us in life, and live it out qui­etly. Some­times, peo­ple come along, and they’re like stars, guid­ing our way; they in­spire us. Emma was one of those peo­ple.”

Emma Mhic Mhathúna is pre­de­ceased by her mother An­nette and mourned by her fa­ther, Peter, chil­dren, Natasha, James, Mario, Oisin and Don­nacha; aunts, un­cles, god-daugh­ter, cousins, rel­a­tives, neigh­bours; and friends.

Fu­neral Mass is at 12.45pm to­day (Oc­to­ber 10) at St Mary’s Pro Cathe­dral, Dublin, be­fore her burial at Laragh Bryan Cemetery, Maynooth, County Kil­dare.

Photo by Dom­nick Walsh

Emma’s re­mains are brought into the church.

All pho­tos by Dom­nick Walsh

Emma’s un­cle through mar­riage who ad­dressed the large me­dia group af­ter the Fu­neral Mass in Car­raig, west Kerry.

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