Cork girl, 15, fled Manchester Arena amid chaos

Cork girl, 15, fled Manchester Arena amid chaos
Kiara McKelvey took this selfie before leaving for the concert.

The uncle of a 15-year-old Irish girl who survived the Manchester terror attack believes a guardian angel was watching over her, writes Eoin English of the Irish Examiner.

Kiara McKelvey, who moved with her family from Tower in Co Cork to Manchester about two years ago, was inside the Manchester Arena when a suicide bomber detonated a device after the Ariana Grande concert.

Her uncle, Lloyd Creagh, who lives on the northside of Cork City, said Kiara had to scale railings and avoid a panicked stampede for the exits before she and a friend managed to escape the venue to safety.

He said he believes his mother Rose, Kiara’s grandmother, who died eight years ago, was watching over her.

“My mother, who died eight years ago, adored all of her grandchildren,” said Mr Creagh.

“My faith in the church and religion has been rocked by all the scandals of recent years but my faith has been restored after this. Something, or somebody, was looking after Kiara.

“We’re counting our lucky stars. Some kids were not so lucky. My heart is breaking just thinking of all the victims, especially eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos who was killed. Thank God we’re one of the lucky families.”

He said he spoke to Kiara’s mother, Hillary, his sister, early yesterday about what had happened.

He said Kiara told of how she heard a loud bang seconds after the concert finished and realised something serious had happened.

But he said she was able to stay on her feet as thousands of people fled towards the exits.

He said she and her friend had to climb over railings before they made it to the exits, and that they were among the lucky ones to get outside the arena before the police and emergency services arrived on the scene.

Kiara and her friend were met outside by her friend’s mother who drove them to safety.

Mr Creagh praised Kiara’s maturity for having the presence of mind to contact her mother, Hillary, immediately by phone to say she was OK.

He said Kiara’s reassuring call came through just as her father, Andy, was getting a frantic phone call from his terrified sister to say there had been an attack on the Manchester Arena.

Kiara, a former student of Coláiste Choilm in Ballincollig, went to school in Manchester yesterday where counselling and chaplaincy supports were in place.

However, her mother, Hillary, was caught up in a security alert at a shop in Manchester city centre yesterday afternoon amid heightened security fears.

“The whole family is in turmoil,” Mr Creagh said. “It will take some time to get over this but they are a strong family.”

Meanwhile, a book of condolence in solidarity with those affected by the Manchester terror attack will open in Dublin today.

The city's mayor will open it at the Mansion House at 10am this morning.

A number of books of condolence have opened at local authority buildings around the country including at Clare County Council and Kilkenny Town Hall.

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