Mourners at the funeral of Belfast model Mairead O’Neill were told the 21-year-old wanted nothing more than to “celebrate the gift of life”.
However Father Michael McGinnity said that in the past 12 months the loss of her mother was, for her, a “heartache that would not go away”. The young model’s funeral took place in St Malachy’s Church in Belfast.
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Mairead, a former pupil of Hazelwood Integrated College and Belfast Met who was originally from the Markets area of Belfast, died suddenly on Monday night. Police are not treating the death of the young woman who worked for CMPR Models as suspicious.
At her funeral service yesterday Fr McGinnity said Mairead’s family and friends are “numb with grief”.
He added: “It’s also a tragedy that has touched the hearts of people from across the country. On social media, tributes have poured in from people who worked with Mairead in the fashion industry, as well as people who met her at charity events. Many who knew her well, find it hard to take in that someone who was so full of life, is now gone.
“Listening to her family and friends speak about her, Mairead was clearly someone who loved life – there was nothing she wanted more than to be creative, artistic, and to celebrate the gift of life.”
He said the death of her mother Karen 10 months ago came as a “terrible blow”.
Fr McGinnity said: “Each of [Karen’s children] – Bronagh, Brendan and Mairead – had to set out on their own painful journey of grief. It wasn’t long before it became clear that Mairead wasn’t coping well at all. Missing her mother became the heartache that would not go away.
“Throughout this year Mairead struggled to keep her life and work on track. But nothing anyone said or did could make up for the loss of her mother. The inner emptiness of such loss just kept on eating away at Mairead’s mind and heart.”
Prior to the funeral, her sister Bronagh had posted a heartfelt message to her “stunning baby sister and beautiful best friend” on Facebook: “I tried so hard to be like mum but I know I could never be the mum she was to you.
“She was one of a kind and that’s why you needed to be with her and back in her arms.
“Let her hold you tight and never let go.”
Following her funeral, Mairead was taken to Roselawn Crematorium.
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