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‘Hard to put into words feeling of losing whole family’

The funeral of Úna, Ciara and Saoirse Bowden, the mother and her two daughters who were killed in a collision on the N17 in Co Mayo last week, has taken place.

Mrs Bowden was originally from east Donegal and the funeral mass was celebrated in St Eunan’s Church in Raphoe.

The bodies of 47-year-old Úna, Ciara who was 14 and 10-year-old Saoirse had been reposing at the home of Mrs Bowden’s father John Carlin in Miltown, Raphoe, since Monday evening and the cortège of three hearses travelled from there for mass at noon.

The family were living in the Maigh Cuilinn area of Co Galway and are believed to have been travelling home when the crash occurred

Parish Priest Fr Eamonn Kelly told the congregation there are no fancy words to take away the pain of this tragedy.

He said the words heartache and sorrow do not capture the emptiness, pain, unfairness and lousiness of what took place on that road outside Claremorris.

David Bowden, husband of Úna and father of Ciara and Saoirse, placed photographs of each of them on the wicker coffins in front of the altar.

Among the gifts placed on their coffins to symbolise their lives were paintings and jerseys of the various sports clubs the girls played with.

Mr Bowden’s brother Andrew gave a eulogy at the end of the funeral mass which he said was written by David.

“It is hard to put into words what the feeling is to lose your whole family in one go – I’m crying so hard as I write this,” he said.

He spoke of how they “were all such beautiful girls”.

He said Úna was “my soulmate, my confidante and my world now is so empty without her” and “she was so involved in everything and everything revolves around her girls.”

Ciara loved sports and her art was top class and her father was so proud of her, Mr Bowden said.

Fr Eamonn Kelly asked Ciara and Saoirse’s friends to remember the funny moments

She was “the dog daughter” and her two dogs passed away with her in the accident.

Ciara was “the most beautiful and wonderful girl” and she was due to go to her first disco but “she never made it to the Claregalway disco last weekend”.

Saoirse was the cheekiest, Mr Bowden said, she was the quirkiest and kindest girl and a lover of cats and Harry Potter.

“I hope this has taken her into the magical world she has so envisaged,” he said.

Speaking to the friends of both girls, Mr Bowden said: “Please know that they valued your friendship so much.”

He said they would not want you to be sad, they would want you to live full and happy lives and he asked them to take that away with them from this funeral and act on that.

Fr Kelly also spoke directly to the friends who were present in the church some of whom had travelled from Galway and to those watching the livestream.

He said that “sometimes in life things happen that we have no control over, that happen for some unknown reason, like the accident that took away our friends and their mother”.

Fr Kelly said these “naturally make us feel sad and lonely, even unwell but it is our bodies dealing with the trauma”.

He said it is good to talk about feelings and share them with your friends.

He encouraged them to speak to their friends about their friends “who have gone”.

Fr Kelly asked them to remember the funny moments, the silly moments and the “we nearly got caught” moments.

Friendship was clearly a huge part of all of their lives. Amelia told the congregation that Ciara was her best friend and would be for the rest of her life.

“She was the most loyal, kind and funny person,” she said, “just seeing her smile would make your day ten times better”.

She and Ciara had been due to go to their first disco together, but she said she knows Ciara will always be with her when she is getting ready.

Saoirse looked up to Ciara and they loved each other so much, she said. Una was the best mum anyone could ever have and Amelia said just seeing them all together “made me feel safe and happy” and, she said, she is glad that they will forever be together here in Donegal.

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