Beloved Léana to be laid to rest today

TAOISEACH Brian Cowen and his wife Mary Molloy were among several hundred people who sympathised with Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin and his family last night as they began the heartbreaking process of saying goodbye to their beloved Léana.

Mr Martin’s youngest daughter, who was seven and had been ill with a heart condition, died in Great Ormond Street Hospital in London on Friday with her family at her bedside.

Mr Martin, his wife Mary, and their three other children – Micheál Aodh 16, Aoibhe, 14, and Cillian, 10 – accompanied Léana’s remains as they were brought in a little white coffin to O’Connor’s Funeral Home in Temple Hill in Cork just before 3pm yesterday.

Her classmates from Our Lady of Lourdes school in Ballinlough arrived, each clutching a little hand-drawn crayon picture showing their own special memories of Léana.

They spent some time inside the funeral home before filing out huddled under umbrellas, some in tears, all bewildered, each one with a hand clasped tightly by a parent.

It marked the start of a steady stream of mourners from the worlds of politics, business, sport and the arts who filed in over the next three hours to offer their sympathies.

The removal took place shortly after 6pm to Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Ballintemple, where Canon Jim O’Donovan told Mr Martin and his family: “You now have an angel in heaven.”

Fr James McSweeney gave a reading from the First Letter of St John.

Prayers were also said for the Martins’ baby son Ruairi, who died in 1999.

As well as the Taoiseach and his wife, former Taoisigh Bertie Ahern and Albert Reynolds were among the mourners, as were Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, Health Minister Mary Harney, Environment Minister John Gormley, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern, Transport Minister Noel Dempsey, Defence Minister Tony Killeen, Communications Minister Eamon Ryan, Community Minister Pat Carey, Children’s Minister Barry Andrews, Government chief whip John Curran and Attorney General Paul Gallagher.

Also in attendance were junior ministers Dick Roche, Billy Kelleher, Sean Haughey, Peter Power and MEP Brian Crowley.

Fianna Fáil TDs present included Noel O’Flynn, Michael Moynihan, Ned O’Keeffe, Michael McGrath, Michael Ahern, Tom Kitt, former Ceann Comhairle John O’Donoghue, and former defence minister Willie O’Dea TD, who were joined by the general secretary of the party, Sean Dorgan.

Fine Gael members present included TDs Simon Coveney and Deirdre Clune and Senator Jerry Buttimer.

Labour TD Ciaran Lynch was in attendance, as was Green Party chairman Senator Dan Boyle.

Other mourners included Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Michael O’Connell, city manager Tim Lucey, chief superintendent Mick Finn, interim chief executive of Thomas Crosbie Holdings Tom Murphy, chief executive of Bord Gáis John Mullins, and several members of Cork City Council.

GAA president Christy Cooney and former Cork GAA managers Billy Morgan, Larry Tompkins and John Allen, former Cork senior football star Colin Corkery, and former Irish international and Munster rugby hooker Frankie Sheahan also attended, as did singer Sean O Se and Peadar O Riada.

President Mary McAleese, who led the condolences to the family over the weekend, describing Léana’s death as an “unbearable loss” for her family, will attend the funeral Mass at 11.30am this morning.

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