The sunny spring evening of May Bank Holiday weekend belied the sense of utter shock and devastation as a grieving congregation gathered quietly at the local GAA pitch tonight to commemorate schoolgirl Aoibhe Byrne.
More than a thousand mourners patiently queued at the entrance to the Magheracloone Mitchells GAA club on the outskirts of Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, where the club held a candlelight vigil to honor the 14-year-old, who died in a tragic accident on Wednesday life came.
Such was the mourning that dozens of volunteers from the club and the community at large worked as park rangers to direct a steady stream of traffic that poured into the grounds throughout the evening for the three-hour vigil.
Hundreds of mourners had already arrived when the vigil began at 6 p.m.
Families, club members, young children and hundreds of teenagers who were friends, classmates and teammates of the popular young girl stood in groups around a makeshift shrine in the center of the pitch.
Dozens of lanterns made a path to a stand where condolence books were laid out for mourners to sign before heading to the center of the pitch, where a giant heart – shaped from the club’s folded black and white team shirts – was seen as a functioned as a temporary shrine.
Candles lined up in the letter A alongside bouquets of flowers and a wreath topped with a collage of photographs of the smiling student.
Mourners from the GAA Club, Carrick Cruisers Basketball Club and Carrick Rovers AFC, where Aoibhe was a talented and enthusiastic team member, donned their club jerseys as a mark of respect.
Her many close friends wept and hugged as they formed a guard of honor at the shrine while others stood around the pitch in silent reflection, offering prayers and blessings as Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” played softly from a speaker in the background.
Local Sinn Féin councilor Noel Keelan said the entire community was stunned with shock.
“She was a lovely girl and very involved in the local GAA and sports clubs. Everyone is in shock. We will all look after the family now if they are in need.”
Aoibhe attended Colaiste Dun an Ri in neighboring Co Cavan and was a talented sportsman.
An obituary published on Rip.ie read: “Aoibhe’s passing brings indescribable sadness to her heartbroken family, she is loved beyond words and will be missed forever.”
Aoibhe played GAA with Magheracloone Mitchells, basketball with Carrick Cruisers and football with Carrick Rovers AFC, all of which have paid tribute.
The GAA Club Magheracloone Mitchells, which organized the vigil, had invited the GAA community, the community at large and all family members, friends and sports clubs from Aoibhe to “remember Aoibhe with us tomorrow night”.
And the community responded in t
Heirs flocked to what should have been a pleasant start to a long weekend before Aoibhe’s tragic death cast a shadow over the area.
“Our hearts are broken as we try to process the devastating news of Aoibhe’s sudden death,” the club wrote.
“Aoibhe was a member of our U16 girls team and started playing with the club at U10 level. She was always smiling and always insane. Her bubbly personality will be remembered for all eternity.
“We send our sincere condolences to Gary, Olivia, Oisín, Saoirse, Caolan, Gary Óg and all of Aoibhe’s other relatives, friends and teammates. You are in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.”
“Sleep well, Aoibhe, pet.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/community-turns-out-in-its-droves-at-vigil-to-remember-monaghan-schoolgirl-aoibhe-byrne-after-tragic-death-41601833.html The community flocks to the vigil to commemorate the tragic death of Monaghan schoolgirl Aoibhe Byrne