07 Oct 2022

Tragic pool accident victim donated organs to save others

Funeral of six-year-old who died in Spanish swimming misfortune

Tragic pool accident victim donated organs to save others

Fr John Joe Duffy officiated at the Requiem Mass for six-year-old Grace Mary Sweeney in Creeslough this morning

The tragic victim of a swimming pool accident had her organs donated so that others may be saved, her Requiem Mass has been told.

Grace Mary Sweeney of Knocknafaugher, Dunfanaghy and Waterfoot, Co Antrim died on Wednesday of last week, June 22, two days after being taken from a swimming pool at the four-star HYB Eurocalas Hotel in the east coast resort of Calas de Mallorca, Majorca where she was on holiday at the time.

The funeral for the six-year-old took place at St Michael's Church Creeslough this Thursday afternoon.

Local curate Fr John Joe Duffy was the chief celebrant of the Requiem Mass and concelebrated by the parish priest, Fr Martin Doohan, Fr Patsy Arkinson, PP Killygordon parish and retired Creeslough-based cleric, Fr Seamus Murphy.

It was attended by family, relatives, and friends as well as many locals including teachers and classmates from nearby Faugher National School where Grace Mary had been a pupil. Her tiny white coffin sat before the altar with a smiling photograph of her on top.

Mourners wore bright colours to symbolise the happiness and love of life that the young girl had brought to so many during her short life.

Welcoming the mourners to the church Fr Duffy spoke of the heartfelt sorrow experience by Grace Mary's family and friends on the occasion of her sad passing but also reminded them of the fact she was now in Heaven in the arms of her late father John, who passed away several years ago following a tragic accident on a construction site in London.

The curate said the last place any of them wanted to be was at a funeral Mass for a child but they were present to show support to the family of the deceased.

"You are surrounding them with your love by keeping them very much in your heart. We do not gather to pray for Grace but rather to her and ask her now from Heaven where she is to give strength to her mum, family, aunts, uncles, cousins and godparents," he said.

In his homily, Fr Duffy said Grace Mary was greatly loved, greatly cherished and so very precious.

"The only consolation you can take in little Grace is in the arms of her dad and she will remain with you and give you strength. I encourage each one us here this morning to pray to Grace because she is already among the saints and angels of Heaven."

He also recalled the many great memories everyone had of the young girl's zest for life, for dancing and singing.

"Her feet never touched the ground, there was that specialness about her. She seemed to walk and dance through the air. She was very clever, she was always telling stories. She brought so much joy, happiness and so much love into your lives, full of hugs and cuddles. She was so kind-hearted and always put others before herself.

"She loved being the girly girl, loved nail polish, pretty colourful clothes and loved her hair long. That is why the family are wearing bright colours this morning and wearing her favourite colour pink. She enjoyed school and had so much fun with her friends."

He also recalled her receiving a blessing from him prior to going on holiday at an anniversary Mass for her grandfather Eddie and that she was so looking forward to making her own First Holy Communion. Fr Duffy reflected on the deep love she also had for her older sister, Cara and her younger brother, Patrick and how she had been buried wearing Cara's Holy Communion dress.

Fr Duffy praised the family's generosity in agreeing to donate some of Grave's organs in the aftermath of the tragedy.

"Grace gave in life and as a result of her giving, two other children will have life and please God, will have a better quality of life thanks to thanks to the generosity of you Geraldine and the family together with Damien and the grandparents that Grace's organs have gone on to help other children."

Interment took place immediately after the funeral at Doe cemetery.

Grace Mary is survived by her mother Geraldine, sister Cara and brother Patrick, and Geraldine’s partner Damien, her grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and extended family and friends. She was predeceased by her father John and grandfather Eddie a number of years ago.

The family has requested there be family flowers only with donations in lieu, if desired, to The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust. c/o any family member or James Harkin, funeral director, Creeslough.

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