Glasgow tries to move on from Karen Buckley tragedy

Glasgow tries to move on from Karen Buckley tragedy

WALKING around Glasgow, there is no hint of a recent tragedy.

Workers rush to their offices, tourists stroll around aimlessly and it could be like any other city in Britain.

You would not think, a month on from her death in this city, that you would have to remind someone who Karen Buckley was.

But “Oh, the wee girl who died?” is the honest response of some, when asked about the tragic student in her adopted home of Glasgow.

Having arrived in the city at about 11am on a weekday, I made a beeline for George Square. It is one of Glasgow’s most renowned sights and also the site where many hundreds of people joined Karen’s parents for a memorial in the days after her untimely death.

It made sense to me that there would be some sign of a tribute here, and there was.

Only not for Karen – the wilting flowers that lay before the war memorial in the square, were from the recent VE Day celebrations. Undeterred, I aimed for Glasgow Caledonian University, where Karen spent her final few months studying occupational therapy.

The walk from George Square to GCU, more affectionately known as Caley, is a pleasant one.

It is exam season so students are scattered everywhere, and the campus is a construction site with renovations going on.

The library seems to hold the biggest crowd - as Caley students knuckle down to the books – where Karen should have been now, preparing for her exams.

But it is this very building, where Karen would have studied every day, where I am taken aback by my exchange with the receptionist.

Asking about the book of condolences which had been opened for the outpouring of grief from the students and staff of Caley following Karen’s death, the receptionist replied “who is that for?”

I explained I would like to view the book of condolences for Karen Buckley, prompting the response “Oh, the wee girl who died?”

In this woman’s defence, I imagine she has slipped back in to the usual, no doubt busy, routine of dealing with student enquiries, but I never thought I would be reminding a Glaswegian about this horrific case, just a month after it unfolded.

I decided to head out of Caley and aim for The Sanctuary nightclub, from where Karen disappeared, via Hill Street, where she lived.

The Santuary nightclub, where Karen had been enjoying her night out. Picture: The Irish Post The Santuary nightclub, where Karen had been enjoying her night out. Picture: The Irish Post

It is a walk I could imagine Karen and her friends had done many times over the short time she lived in Scotland, as the west end, where The Sanctuary is located, is dotted with pubs, shops, supermarkets and all sorts of other reasons to venture in.

A lively, pleasant area, it was one of the busier parts of the city, but I get an ominous feeling passing by the nightclub.

Passers-by make no remark or double-take as they stroll past the grey building, but, to me, I could not help but feel a chill down my spine, knowing I was looking at the door where Karen was last seen alive.

I soon find out that Dumbarton Road, where the nightclub is, is a regular haunt for students of both Caley and the University of Glasgow.

In one of the many pubs here frequented by the student population, I speak to a barmaid.

“Well, it’s still something we think about because it’s so recent,” she said. “But it was a horrific thing to happen so I think we don’t want to dwell on it, and we want to move on.”

Her sentiments are echoed by one of her regular customers, an elderly Scottish man who was in for his daily afternoon pint.

“It’s a sad situation, that’s for sure,” he said. “But we can’t think about it constantly or we’d drive ourselves mad.”

The Glaswegians’ pride in their city was blatant throughout the search for Karen, and in the aftermath of her death.

And it is plain to see, it is still there now.

Glasgow may not have forgotten Karen Buckley, but its citizens are trying to put it to the back of their minds as they move on with their lives.