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28 April 2015, 15:03
The emotional funeral of murdered Karen Buckley has been told of the indescribable hurt and pain wreaked on her devastated family by an utterly inappropriate death.
Amid heartbreaking scenes in her native Mourneabbey, near Mallow, Co Cork, the tragic student's brothers placed a poignant photograph of her as a child starting school, as well as her nurse uniform, by her coffin.
Parish priest Fr Joe O'Keeffe told mourners, led by her parents John, 62, and Marian, 61, and brothers Brendan, 32, Kieran, 28, and Damien, 27, that now was a time of tears.
As well as being a young woman, Miss Buckley, 24, was a friend, cousin, niece, sister-in-law, sister, and a child, he said.
To her parents in particular it was most difficult to see their only daughter travel from "the cradle to the coffin'', he told them.
"One represents the beginning of life and the other represents the end,'' he said. "And it is doubly sad when the two are so closely linked.
"We are deeply, deeply saddened when the life of someone so young is cut short, and in Karen's case, so tragically and horrifically so, by the curtain of death.''
Ms Buckley's local parish church, which holds 300 people, wasn't big enough for the crowds that turned out to bid her a final farewell, including those who had travelled from Scotland.
A loud speaker had to be put up so those who gathered outside could hear the service. A large marquee set up on the church grounds was also packed out.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny (Irish prime minister) was represented at the funeral, while a junior government minister, Darragh Murphy and the Lord Mayor of Cork Mary Shields also turned out to pay their respects.
A number of officers from Police Scotland attended to represent the force.
Fr O'Keeffe said Ms Buckley's untimely death was confusing for those who loved her.
"Karen's death seems so utterly inappropriate,'' he added. "It violates our sense of order.
"In our view of life, death and childhood are poles apart, and twenty-four years simply does not seem the right time to die - it does not seem to add up.''
The priest told the congregation at the Church of Saint Michael the Archangel that many things would now leave a void for her loved ones.
"It may be a picture that hangs on the wall, a familiar footstep, a stray kitten whom Karen named Boots, or whatever, but nothing becomes so indispensable as a child,'' he said.
"From the outset he or she tangles his or her tiny fingers in our heart strings and when they are pulled away the hurt is indescribable.
"It is an hour of heartache, a time of tears.''
During the service, Ms Buckley's three brothers each placed a memento of their sister by her coffin, as a reminder of her personality, achievements and her love for life.
The picture of her first day at the nearby Analeentha National School was a symbol of her lifelong love for learning.
The uniform represented her as a kind and caring nurse "whose smile would light up the ward,'' her cousin Padraig Hurley said.
Karen's favourite dress was also placed beside her remains to show her love of fashion.
"As you can see from the picture she looked beautiful,'' Mr Hurley said.
A qualified nurse, Karen was studying at Glasgow Caledonian University for a masters degree in occupational health therapy when she went missing after a night out in the city on April 12.
Her body was found at a farm north of the city four days later and Alexander Pacteau was arrested and charged with her murder.
Her funeral service was marked throughout by contributions from the many cousins and friends of Ms Buckley, who remembered her as a "gentle soul'' whose life "revolved around family, friends and goodness''.
Friend Julie Malone said: "Karen touched the lives of all of us in a very special way and she was an example to us all.''
Prayers were also offered for the emergency services, police and fire service.
Ms Buckley's cousin Siobhan Leahy read a poem entitled Karen, which recalled her journey from "green country fields'' to international studies, "a nurse with plans, a woman full of dreams''.
"A smile to lift a thousand frowns; brown eyes shining, big and round; a country girl - big hopes, big plans; big heart, big smile and caring hands,'' she read.
As well as hymns by the local church choirs, there was also a version of the Irish female group Celtic Woman's song Goodnight, My Angel.
In a reference to the student's love of travel Fr O'Keefe said: "Through travelling extensively Karen reached many a destination. Shortly, we will travel with her mortal remains on her last earthly journey.''
Ms Buckley was buried after the funeral service in nearby Burnfort Cemetery, alongside her grandparents.
Thousands had gathered in Mallow yesterday to pay their respects, as her body was removed from a funeral home in the north Cork town.
Pupils from her former school St Mary's and former nursing classmates from the University of Limerick formed guards of honour.
Ms Buckley's remains had been flown back to Ireland from Scotland on a special flight on Sunday.
Earlier this month, about 300 people attended a vigil in Glasgow's George Square for the tragic student.