Schoolchildren of all ages, many accompanied by their mothers who were also once pupils of Máire Buckley, paid tribute to the former teacher yesterday. She was killed during a dramatic high-speed chase on the streets of Dublin last Sunday. More than 700 mourners crammed into Our Lady of Lourdes Church on Seán McDermott Street in Dublin yesterday morning for the funeral mass of the 62-year-old community liaison teacher.
Although the dead woman lived in the north Dublin suburb of Donnycarney, the fact that her family chose to hold her Requiem Mass near the schools where she taught powerfully underscored the strong bond between the teacher and the inner-city community where she worked for over two decades.
Local curate Fr Joe Lucey said Máire had personified light, beauty and goodness in all her dealings with adults and students alike.
“She really believed there was no distinction between God and us,” he told parishioners.
“Máire approached each of us as if we were gods.”
Fr Lucey also recalled her passionate work as a teacher in local schools on Marlborough Street and Rutland Street. He reminded the congregation that Máire had still remained in contact with teachers and pupils at the schools after her formal retirement last September.
Touching tributes were paid to her during the Prayers of the Faithful. Ashleigh Eyre, a student from Rutland Street School, described how Máire had even been helping out at the school last week.
“Ms Buckley, who was retired, should have been sitting in her lovely back garden relaxing but she was here in the inner city taking a boy in our sixth class to his new school, Coláiste Eoin, and making sure he would be happy there in September,” she said.
Another pupil, Nathan Stanley, said: “Máire reached out to so many of us and touched our lives in different ways.”
A large range of Offertory Gifts including a picture she had recently painted, an Italian phrase book and fridge magnet to reflect her creativity, love of education and sense of fun.
The chief mourners at the funeral Mass were Ms Buckley’s daughter, Angela, who was with her mother at the time of the fatal accident last Sunday, accompanied by her mother’s brothers Seán, Martin and Anthony along with sisters Mairéad and Bríd.
In recognition of the dead woman’s deep sense of spirituality, reflections by a number of Indian gurus accompanied the traditional Bible readings.
Among those in attendance were local TDs Joe Costello and Finian McGrath and Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald as well as the well-known homeless charity worker Sr Stanislaus Kennedy and the Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin Dr Fiachra Ó Ceallaigh.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was represented by his aide-de-camp, Comdt Michael Murray.
Martin Buckley asked mourners to say prayers for Peter Clarke, the man whose stolen bus fatally injured his sister.
“Máire’s family, and all of us who knew her, know that Máire would extend the hand of forgiveness and reconciliation to the bus driver,” said Mr Buckley.
Máire’s niece Deirdre Buckley extended thanks on behalf of the family for the work of gardaí, ambulance and fire brigade crews and hospital staff. She also praised other motorists and residents living near the scene of her aunt’s fatal accident for their kindness.
At the end of the ceremony, children, who had earlier placed single roses on the altar, formed a guard of honour as their former teacher’s coffin was brought from the church for burial at Fingal Cemetery.