The floral tributes spelled out the words “friend” and “mam”.
She was a friend to many throughout her 26 years, a mam to her newly delivered baby for just one day.
Prayers were said at yesterday’s funeral Mass in Thurles, Co Tipperary, for Nicola Kenny, whose death in a motorway crash on Monday cast a cloud of grief over her family, friends, and community, and shocked the country.
Prayers were also said for Lily Rose, who was just one day old when Nicola died; and for Nicola’s aunt Irene, who had been driving the car when it was hit by a truck after the car had pulled over on the hard shoulder of the M8 motorway, and is now in a critical condition at the intensive care unit at University Hospital Limerick.
Nicola’s mother Ann was also a passenger in the car and her injuries meant she attended yesterday’s funeral — with her husband Patrick, son Patrick, and the rest of the family — in a wheelchair and wearing a sling around her broken arm.
The car had stopped between the Cahir and Cashel motorway junctions to allow Nicola take a call from Temple Street Children’s Hospital telling her there was no need to make the journey to Dublin as Lily Rose was well enough to go back to Tipperary.
A huge crowd gathered at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Thurles yesterday to say their last farewells to Nicola, whose popularity was illustrated by the amount of young people present, including girls in the uniform of the Ursuline Convent she attended, and staff from the local Tesco where she worked.
Some of her friends wore Minnie Mouse T-shirts. They were in memory of Nicola’s love of Disney characters and cartoons but were also a reminder of her young age, as were the symbols of her life brought to the altar during the Mass: A Minnie Mouse headband; an Olly Murs CD; a pair of runners to remember her love of fashion; and a framed photo of her friends.
Chief celebrant and local curate Fr Vincent Stapleton pointed out in his homily that, just a few short days ago, the town and county were celebrating Tipperary’s success on the hurling field and had gathered in their thousands for the team’s homecoming on Monday night in nearby Semple Stadium.
“Little did we know that just down the road in Kennedy Park, the Kenny family and local community around them were left reeling from the cruel blow, as the news of Nicola’s tragic death in a road accident filtered through.”
The sense of shock and inability to comprehend what happened was “made so much worse by the knowledge that Nicola was just days into motherhood and she had just heard good news about baby Lily Rose when her own life came to an end”.
Nicola “made so many connections” throughout her 26 years, from her love of family to her wide circle of friends and colleagues, and brought her “childlike joy and vivacious personality” into everything she did.
During prayers later in the Mass, Fr Stapleton said Nicola’s last great joy was the birth of Lily Rose.
“We pray for Lily Rose now and ask Nicola and God’s guardian angel to continue to watch over her from heaven.”
Among the mourners were local TDs Alan Kelly and Jackie Cahill, while a number of local priests con-celebrated Mass, along with Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly of Cashel and Emly.
Afterwards, the streets outside fell silent as Nicola’s coffin emerged from the cathedral and was placed in the hearse, before being brought on the young mother’s last journey to St Patrick’s Cemetery. Her family was disconsolate as they followed behind, with her friends clutching balloons and red roses.
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