'TERRIBLE TRAGEDY': Funeral of mother and two daughters killed in horror collision takes place

'TERRIBLE TRAGEDY': Funeral of mother and two daughters killed in horror collision takes place

THE funeral of a mother and her two daughters who were killed in a collision in Co. Mayo last week is underway today.

Una Bowden, 47, Ciara Bowden, 14, and nine-year-old Saoirse Bowden were killed when their car was involved in a collision with a lorry on the N17 in Castlegar, outside Claremorris.

Una Bowden, left, with her daughters Saoirse, 9, and Ciara, 14

Mrs Bowden's husband and the girls' father, David Bowden was working abroad with the United Nations when the tragedy occurred. He was due to arrive home the following day.

The family lived in Moycullen, Co. Galway, however, Mrs Bowden and her daughters are being laid to rest in her native Co. Donegal this afternoon at the request of the family.

Mourners and family at St Eunan's Church in Raphoe, Donegal for the funeral of Una, Ciara and Saoirse Bowden

Mourners came out to pay their respects today as Mass got underway at St Eunan’s Church in Raphoe, Donegal at 12 noon.

Representatives from the girls’ schools in Galway were among the many in attendance.

Welcoming the congregation on “this day of sorrow” parish priest Father Eamonn Kelly said “there are no words to take away the pain of the moment and this time”.

Husband and father David Bowden helps carry the coffins into St Eunan's Church this afternoon

“We are in a place we would rather not be today, because of the tragic accident, we would almost give anything to be anywhere else, doing anything else, but we have a duty to be with our sisters and to give them a Christian burial,” he added.

A selection of symbolic gifts, which were placed on the coffins of Una, Ciara and Saoirse as the Mass began, included a number of sports jerseys and photos of the tragic Bowden family.

Grieving father and husband, David Bowden arranged the items on the coffins, which Fr Kelly said “reminds us all of the girls' love of sport”.

Addressing the congregation, Fr Kelly said: “What a terrible tragedy to happen to a family, as a dad looked forward to coming home to a holiday with his girls and his girls looked forward to sharing time with their dad in their just finished new house.

“But in a split-second life was changed forever.

“So, we gather this afternoon to pray a funeral Mass for Una, for Ciara and for Saoirse.

“We gather to be with David, husband and father, painfully robbed of wife and daughters.”

He added: “Words such as heartache, grief and sorrow do not capture the emptiness, the pain, the unfairness, the lousiness of what took place that day, just outside of Claremorris.”

Paying tribute to Una, Fr Kelly said “after winning her fight with breast cancer one would have hoped for a clear path through life for Una, but that is not the way things did go”.

Grieving father and husband David Bowden pictured ahead of the funeral today

Describing her as a “serial degree getter”, Fr Kelly she fell “head over heels” for David, her “man from Zambia with the funny twang of an accent, well at least compared to a girl from Raphoe”.

Fr Kelly described Ciara, who had turned 14 last month, as an “ever watchful and caring big sister, who was crazy about all dogs including her own Scottish terriers Daisy and Boo". Both dogs also died in the accident

Brilliant at art, Ciara also excelled in sports, including Gaelic, handball, rugby and basketball, he told those gathered.

Saoirse was remembered as the “biggest Harry Potter fan in the whole wide world, maybe the universe”.

In a eulogy read out at Mass by his brother Andrew, David Bowden said: "It is hard to put into words what the feeling is to loose your whole family in one go.

"The best is to hope and pray that they are at peace,' he added.

"They were all such beautiful girls who lived short but full, happy and fun-filled lives.

"That is how I would like to remember them and I would like for you to do the same."