Michaela Davis wore her new uniform for the first time last week as she picked up her timetable for the coming year. Little was she to know that by the time the school year properly commenced, her young life would have been snuffed out in tragic circumstances.
The area where her body was found by a pensioner out for a walk on Saturday afternoon is lonely, overgrown, a narrow track sandwiched between the canal and the commuter rail line.
It was here that she was found, while her bike – a symbol of her tender years – was located between there and her home in the village estate, not five minutes walk away.
Yesterday gardaí closed the road leading into the estate as they continued to search the area for clues as to how she died, and why such a devastating act may have taken place.
The closure of the road also offered respite for friends and neighbours, who on Saturday had wept openly near the scene of the discovery of her body. Yesterday the numbness had set in. People were not talking. The natural energy of a new school year has drained away.
Garda spokesman Supt John Gilligan described Michaela’s death as “sensitive”, and there was no mistaking the shock and hurt in the area yesterday.
Among the issues gardaí investigating the death will have to explore is the extent to which others may or may not have been exploiting her youthfulness.
Some people in the area said that the popular schoolgirl may have started hanging around with older children of late. The wider area in which she lives, Dublin 15, is full to bursting with children and teenagers, an incredibly youthful dynamic which sometimes means late night drinking in old buildings.
Michaela, who lived in the Village estate off the Lucan Road near Clonsilla, was said to be like many girls her age: interested in bright clothes and different hairstyles, texting and hanging out with friends. But it seems lately she was socialising with an older age group.
In the Spar shop close to where she lived with her parents and older brother, shoppers shook their heads in sadness as they saw her photo across the front pages of the Sunday papers.
“Isn’t it just awful?” one elderly woman was overheard to say.
As one of the first assemblies of the new school year takes place today minus one prospective new student, it doesn’t bear thinking about.
Local councillor David McGuinness, who is on the board of Luttrellstown Community College, said he expected counselling would be offered to Michaela’s friends in light of the weekend’s tragic events.
“I think a lot of people are fearful because they don’t know what happened,” he said. “I know from experience that through the VEC there is a critical emergency action plan that can brought on stream very quickly when parents and children need it. I would suspect that in the coming days they will have to get in place some kind of system.”
He said the abandoned schoolhouse, visible from Porterstown Bridge and close to Michaela’s house, had seen problems involving youth drinking and had come to council attention in the past.
One old school, one new school not three years old, and a schoolgirl gone before her time. In Luttrellstown, the bell will have a hollow ring this morning.