Hundreds of mourners packed St. Mary’s Church, in Cockhill, yesterday to pay tribute to Danielle McLaughlin, “a searching and kind soul.”
People travelled from across the globe to pay their final respects to the 28-years-old Buncrana woman, who was murdered over two weeks ago in Goa, India. The congregation wore brightly coloured clothes and many wore flowers in their hair in order to celebrate the life of the “bright and vibrant” Danielle. Students from both Scoil Mhuire and Crana College in Buncrana lined the road leading to the chapel providing a guard of honour.
Four symbols of Danielle’s life were taken to the altar by family and friends. Christy Duffy brought a holy bracelet from the Mother Teresa care home in India; her sister Joleen brought a family photo; Louise McMenamin brought Danielle’s diary and Ben Taggart, her guitar.
Chief celebrant, Fr. Francis Bradley, offered his condolences to Danielle’s mother Andrea; her younger sisters Joleen, Traigheannach, Seanne and Sky Marie and the members of the McLaughlin and Brannigan families, friends and neighbours.
There was rapturous applause from the congregation in St Mary’s Church following Fr Bradley’s homily, which paid tribute to “a beautiful daughter, a cherished grand-daughter, a thoughtful sister, a loyal friend, a free-spirit, a remarkable classmate, a gentle neighbour; the little girl who became the lovely woman who was Danielle McLaughlin.”
Fr Bradley explained that although Danielle was born in Scotland, she found her true home in the “great community” of Buncrana.
“Strong and lasting friendships were forged here – the presence of so many of Danielle’s peers bear testimony to this. She has been mourned by people of all ages who have been touched by her life and challenged by her death. Although intensely private,
“Danielle has made a huge impression on people’s lives. She was disarmingly kind and forgiving; her warm nature and open heart drew people into her ever-widening, extensive and international circle of friends. A brief glance at the vast array of tender messages for Danielle’s mother Andrea, her family and friends, shows the immense esteem in which she was held. “She had a gentle but powerful way with her – for it seems that just one encounter with her was enough to change someone’s life.”
He added that travel “was genetic” for Danielle, and her life was “many journeys.”
“And her death too, must be seen, not as the end, but instead, the beginning of yet another stage – the most exciting perhaps of them all - as we pray she journeys now into eternal life. She may, for a time appear to be beyond the reach of our touch, but she will remain forever within reach of our prayers.
“And just as Danielle’s mother and sisters and friends accompanied her every step on social media no matter where she went, and just in the same way as her friends, Nicole Farren and Sherridan Smith made their way to Goa to accompany her on her journey home, so too, we now accompany Danielle with our love and our prayers as we bid her ‘safe home,’” he said.
Fr Bradley heaped praise on the entire community who have offered their time, help, facilities and talents to comfort Danielle’s family and friends, and extended thanks to Christy Duffy who managed the “overwhelming generosity” of the public, and the Kevin Bell Repatriation Fund which greatly eased the suffering.
Fr Bradley also offered his assurances to Danielle’s family and friends that the support given to them by the community over the last two weeks since Danielle’s death will continue.