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Family in beautiful funeral tribute to Emma who was ‘loved by all who knew her’

"Of all the special gifts in life, However great or small, To have Emma in our lives, even for this short time, Has been the greatest gift of all."

Emma Mallon

Family and friends of Emma Mallon have paid a tearful farewell at her funeral service in Middletown, where she was described as a young woman who was “loved by all who knew her”.

The 22-year-old, a daughter of Raymond and Cathy and sister to Carrie and Lisa, was the last of the four young people, who died in a road traffic collision in Armagh a week ago, to be laid to rest.

The families of Keith Morrison, Phil Mitchell and Marina Crilly – whose funerals took place on Good Friday – were remembered in prayer too, this afternoon, at St John’s Church, Middletown.

The four died after an horrific road collision at Ballynahonemore Road during the early hours of last Sunday morning.

At today’s funeral Mass, Parish Priest, Fr Sean Moore, paid tribute to the four young people who “were prepared to risk their own lives” at the scene to try and help Emma and her friends, although their efforts were sadly in vain.

There was thanks too for all of the emergency services – fire, police and ambulance – and to friends and neighbours too, and everyone who helped at the scene or throughout the past week in these very dark days. The kindness and empathy of two family liaison officers was also singled out for mention.

Emma’s coffin was borne into the church to a beautiful rendition of the hymn ‘Nearer, My God, To Thee’, with Fr Moore highlighting during the course of the liturgy the importance of her faith.

Symbols were placed in front of the altar to represent all Emma held dear. Her riding helmet, indicated her love of horses, and a picture of a horse, painted by her, representing again not just her love of horses but her amazing talent for art.

Also brought forward were her make-up, a family photograph, symbolising the love and importance of family in Emma’s life, and her work top for SD Mullan’s Spar in Armagh, representing colleagues who were described as her “other family” and who had formed a guard of honour outside the Co Armagh church.

Fr Moore said memories would bring comfort to all who knew and loved Emma.

“In the funeral mass today we are not just bidding farewell to Emma,” he said. “We are thanking God for the memories we have of her. Those memories could be happy memories, sad memories, funny memories.

“And over the last week in the family home and equally at her workplace, there were many stories told about Emma, the things she did, the things she enjoyed, the jokes that she played. And that’s what makes her very much present to us this afternoon as we accompany her on this her last stage of her earthly and Christian journey.”

Fr Moore said there was nothing that could be said to relieve the pain of Emma’s family.

“They have had to face something that they never thought they would have to face in their life, the nightmare of any parent. And unfortunately in this tragedy it wasn’t just them, there were three other families and they are all grieving at this time. Today we are gathered, the family, the extended family, the community. We are still in shock at that awful event of last Sunday morning.”

He continued: “First and foremost Emma was a daughter, a granddaughter, an aunt, a sister, a sister-in-law, a niece. Family. And family was very important to Emma, her parents and her sisters. Family was central to her life. They did so many things together, had so much fun together.”

Fr Moore said Emma was a very caring person and she had a great love of animals.

He told mourners: “Horses were very, very much central to her life. She loved riding, she loved out hiking with them. And it brought her a wide circle of friends of all denominations. She loved them, not just the horses, but the people that she met through her association. Her father also, and grandfather, all had a great love of horses, so she was proud of what she did with them.

“It also took out a very human side of Emma. A few years ago when there was fundraising to be done to send a little child for treatment that wasn’t available in these islands, when she heard about it the first thing she said to her father was, ‘Daddy, we have to do something to raise some funds for that’. She was very proud of that contribution to sending that child to America.

“In other words, her love for other people was very, very great. It showed a very, very important side of Emma, that she cared for so many other people.”

With one of Emma’s pictures placed before the altar, Fr Moore also told all of the artistic talents which shone through.

“Emma was very good at art and some of the lovely pictures that she’d drawn of horses adorned the family home,” he said. “She could see something in the animal that most of us wouldn’t see, right down to the very details of the horse’s eyes, and only somebody who had a great love for animals could have painted the way she did. I’ve often said that anybody who has a love of animals and a love of nature is very, very close to God.”

Fr Moore, who had spoken too of Emma’s faith, said she told everyone she met about God by the way she lived her life and the type of person she was.

“She was very much a people person,” he added. “The sense of loss and devastation among her work colleagues today is a great example of that. She was loved by all who knew her.

“And each one of us, when it’s our turn to leave this Earth, wouldn’t we love to be able to have that said about us? That we loved other people, because that’s what’s important and that’s what Christ told us to do and that’s why Christ died on the cross on Good Friday, to tell us to care for other people.

“Emma cared for others in the way she lived her life.”

Towards the end of what was a beautiful Mass, Emma’s heartbroken mum and sisters each took it in turn to read a portion of their own very personal and very fitting tribute to a young woman who touched so many lives.

Simply entitled, ‘Our Emma’, they read with great composure and dignity through their heartbreak to pay homage to a darling daughter and very special sibling.

“Our Emma is a beautiful young woman,
Whose life was just at the start.
She was a daughter, a sister, an aunt and a friend,
In everyone’s life, she played such an important part.
Growing up in Middletown amongst the nature and countryside,
She had a love of everything outdoors.
And even took horse riding in her stride.
Emma was one of three girls. She was the baby of the house.
A loving, caring, gentle-natured girl, always there as a role model and an amazing aunt.
With such a beautiful smile that would light up any room.
Our very own little ray of sunshine, going from a girl to a young woman,
We loved to watch her bloom.
Beauty and glam for all special occasions
We are forever thankful for the memories that we hold.
Looking back, throughout the years, with lots of lovely stories to be told.
Trustworthy, kind and fun,
Emma was an amazing friend surrounded by many close and good friendships.
And one that was with her to the very end.
Every day was a life that was lived,
Up until the tender age of 22.
A life we thought that would be long and full,
There was so much that she wanted to pursue.
Of all the special gifts in life,
However great or small,
To have Emma in our lives, even for this short time,
Has been the greatest gift of all.
We will miss and love you Emma,
Our lives will never be the same,
We will always keep your memory alive,
Especially with Fianna, Saoirse and Rían,
Who will live through your memories and your name.
Sleep tight Emma, Love you.”

During today’s Mass, Fr Moore had been assisted by Deacon Malachy McElmeel, a grand uncle of Emma, and Fr Sean O’Neill, from the family’s native Parish in Keady.

It was at St Joseph’s Cemetery in Madden that Emma was laid to rest, next to her grandmother, whom she loved dearly, and who sadly departed this world a year ago today.

As Emma’s coffin was carried for the final time out of that church in Middletown on a bright Easter Sunday afternoon, the words of a closing musical rendition offered comfort to those who grieve her loss.

“May your tears come from laughing, you find friends worth having

As every year passes, they mean more than gold

May you win and stay humble, smile more than grumble

And know when you stumble, you’re never alone

Never alone, never alone

I’ll be in every beat of your heart when you face the unknown

Wherever you fly,

This isn’t goodbye
My love will follow you, stay with you, baby, you’re never alone.”

Our deepest sympathy goes out to Emma’s parents, Cathy and Raymond, sisters Carrie and Lisa, and nieces Fianna and Saoirse, nephew Rían, brothers-in-law Christopher and Jordan, grandmother Carmel, and to the entire extended family, friends and colleagues at this time. May she rest in peace.

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