‘SHE WAS LIKE A STAR’
Emma Mhic Mhathúna 1981-2018
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.
Emma’s remains are brought into the church.
Emma’s uncle through marriage who addressed the large media group after the Funeral Mass in Carraig, west Kerry.