Fighting back tears, 21-year-old Jessica Prendergast’s father, Willie, made an emotional speech at his daughter’s funeral Mass in St Oliver’s Church in Ballyvolane, Cork.
As his voice cracked with emotion, he told mourners of his love for his daughter and about her love for her mother.
“She was the kind of child that anyone would love to have — we all miss her desperately,” he said.
“She was so good in nature and friendly. She was a child who always had a smile — she loved her mother.
“Jessica forgave her mother — she became a mother herself and brought a child into the world.
“I know that she would want you to forgive her mother and pray for her.
“We just have to look around here and see the friends she made.
“She is an angel — if ye only knew what Jessica did, only an angel could do it.
“Last year at the airport as we came home from our holidays, Jessica was so full of joy. She lifted up the child to show us — it was like a scene in the Lion King,” he said.
Mourners wept openly and some were so distraught they had to be helped from the church.
Jessica’s coffin was greeted into the church to the strains of David Gray’s song Sail Away.
Her one-year-old son, Jamie Lee, was carried to the altar by his father, James, to light a candle for his dead mother. He was followed by Jessica’s brothers, Wayne and Mark, who also lit candles.
Celebrant Fr John O’Donovan, parish priest of Blackpool, told mourners that Jessica reached out a hand of help to her mother during her difficult times.
He also paid tribute to Jessica.
“When a young person dies, we say what a shame she died before her time — before being allowed to fulfil her potential.
“It is unfair to say this about Jessica. It is not how God and the scriptures would see it.
“Since last Saturday I have been thinking about what people said about Jess. The words were sad at her going but there was a deep joy for knowing her.
“She had a great smile and she had her own little ways. She was lovely but most important of all she was loveable.
“She was loveable in the way she could wrap her father around her finger and how she could reach out to her mother. She made a place brighter and happier.”
Eight aunts and cousins carried Jessica’s coffin from the church.
The cortege then drove the short distance to Rathcooney Cemetery where Jessica was laid to rest.