Karen Buckley: "An outgoing girl who travelled the world. We will miss her terribly."

Karen Buckley: "An outgoing girl who travelled the world. We will miss her terribly."

Described as ‘intelligent, kind and beautiful’ – the death of Karen Buckley has resonated deeply with people all around Britain and Ireland.

When the young Cork woman went missing in Glasgow, there was an outpouring of hope that she would be found alive and well in her adopted home city as her family gave an emotional appeal for her safe return.

But tragically that safe return never came to be and since news of her death broke last week, communities on both sides of the Irish Sea have been united in grief.

A native of Mourneabbey in Co. Cork, Karen attended school in St Mary’s Secondary School in Mallow before going on to study nursing at the University of Limerick.

The only daughter of Marian and John Buckley, she was the youngest of their four children. Her brothers Kieran and Damian both live in Australia, while a third brother, Brendan, resides in Cork.

In a poignant statement about his youngest child, Karen’s father John described her as “an outgoing girl who travelled the world”.

Heartbroken Marian and John Buckley at the memorial to their beloved daughter. Photo: PA Heartbroken Marian and John Buckley at the memorial to their beloved daughter. Photo: PA

The 24-year-old had left Ireland to work in Britain where she took up a position at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Essex.

Evidence of her kind nature during her time as a nurse in England surfaced this week among the tributes to an online fundraising page aiming to raise funds for the family.

“We tried to donate after realising that Karen was the nurse who looked after my husband, when he had surgery last September,” said one woman, Louise Bailes. “May her parents find comfort in knowing what a wonderful, caring, brilliant nurse she was.”

But academic life beckoned once again when Karen decided to undertake a two-year Master’s degree in occupational therapy at Glasgow Caledonian University in February. It was a course she would sadly never finish.

When she disappeared on April 12, the Irish woman was on a night out with her friends in the city’s west end. She told them she was going to the bathroom – but never returned.

When friends raised the alarm the following day, a massive police search was launched.

> at George Square on April 17, 2015 in Glasgow, Scotland. Hundreds turned up to mourn Karen's death in Glasgow. Photo: PA

But as the days slipped by concerns grew for her safety, with worried friends also taking to social media to express their fears.

“48 hours and ur still not home,” friend Claire Bowen wrote on April 14. “Another cold night and wherever u are I hope ur not frightened.”

Similar sentiments and a willingness to do what they could do to help were echoed by members of the Irish community in Karen’s second home of Glasgow.

Isabelle Gray, of the city’s Irish Heritage Foundation, spoke of how dozens of people came through the doors of their Govanhill-based building, wanting to support the Buckley family in any way possible.

“People have been calling in and asking what they can do to support us,” she said. “It shows the effect it has had on the community – everyone is saying how upset they are and they have been coming in all week looking for updates. It’s just terrible.”

The Irish Heritage Foundation, along with Conradh na Gaeilge and Comhaltas in Scotland, have now planned to open a book of condolences for members of the Irish community to sign.

With little news of where their daughter could be, Marian and John Buckley flew to Glasgow from Ireland and as the search intensified and they were soon joined by their three sons.

They made a heartfelt appeal for her safe return – “We just want Karen home safely. We are desperate. She is our only daughter,” Marian pleaded last week. “We love her dearly,” she added.

"We love her dearly" - Karen's body was found last week after a four day search "We love her dearly" - Karen's body was found last week after a four day search

Over the last week there has been overwhelming support the Buckley family, both in Ireland and in Britain.

Karen’s University of Limerick classmates raised £50,000 to help her family with financial costs while they are in Scotland, while locals in Mourneabbey, Co. Cork have looked after the family’s farm.

On April 14, Karen’s handbag was recovered from Dawsholm Park, two miles north west of the city centre close to the River Kelvin.

The following day, the Buckley family’s worst fears were confirmed when police found a body on High Craigton farm, six miles north of Glasgow city.

On Thursday, April 16 – five days after she disappeared - that body was confirmed as that of Karen Buckley.

Overwhelmed by the news, locals in Glasgow organised for a vigil to take place in the Irish woman’s memory.

Last Friday over 300 people, among them many of Karen’s university friends, clung to each other for support, as flowers and messages of sympathy were laid out in George Square in central Glasgow to the backdrop of a lone piper.

Karen’s parents John and Marian Buckley led the crowd in their grief with John putting a protective arm around his wife, kissing her tenderly on the forehead as they cried.

Irishman Barry Ahearn was among those who came to pay his repects. A native also of Cork but now living in Scotland, he was moved to sing On the Banks of the River Lee, a Cork favourite, for the gathered crowds.

A mourner places an Irish flag among the flowers in Glasgow. Photo: PA A mourner places an Irish flag among the flowers in Glasgow. Photo: PA

Many had laid flowers, while others had left messages of condolence.

“We are sorry, RIP,” read one, while another said “Glasgow is sorry”.

Social media has also been flooded with messages of support.

“My life is richer that you have been in it Karen and you will be forever in my heart. I love you forever Buckaroo, my little Karebear. I miss you more than anyone could ever imagine,” wrote one of Karen’s friends Julie Malone.

“Sleep well KareBear. Alway in my thoughts and always loved,” Claire Bowen added.

“Marian and I together, with our sons Brendan, Kieran and Damien, are absolutely heartbroken. We will miss her terribly,” father John Buckley said of the daughter he would never see again.

On Saturday, over 100 people also took part in a silent vigil in the Hill Street area of Glasgow where Karen was living. There, 1,000 candles were lit to create a Celtic design while dozens of flowers and hand-written tribute messages were laid out.

Memorials have also taken place in Ireland where Karen, once her body is released, will be buried in her home parish.

On Sunday, at the Church of St Michael, the Archangel in Analeentha, parish priest Fr Joe O’Keeffe asked for the congregation to support the Buckley family as they came to terms with their loss.

“We are called to be witnesses, to be witnesses with every fibre of our being, particularly in the light of the tragedy of the last week for the Buckley family,” he said.

Books of condolence have also been opened in Karen’s native Cork and at the University of Limerick, where people continue to come to terms with her unnecessary and sudden death.