'bright and curious' | 

Tributes paid to Alice Dunleavy (4) who died in caravan park tragedy

“A smile that endeared her to everyone”

Alice Dunleavy

Eavan MurrayIndependent.ie

Four-year-old Alice Dunleavy was remembered as a “human dynamo” who “squeezed every last drop of joy and happiness” out of life.

The little girl from Ballina, Co Mayo, died tragically last Friday after a collision with a car while playing at a caravan park in Enniscrone, Co Sligo.

Her funeral mass heard her death was the realisation of every parent’s worst nightmare.

Her heartbroken parents, John and Ann Marie and her sisters, Rose and April Dunleavy, were joined by hundreds of family and friends who packed out St Muredach’s Cathedral in Ballina to say their final goodbye to the much-loved little girl.

Fr Gerry O’Hora described Alice as “a bright, intelligent child brimming with curiosity”.

He said her tragic death had devastated her family and brought a dark cloud over the community.

“Every parent’s worst fear for their child was realised by you, John and Ann Marie, by Alice’s death.

“Today, we gather to mourn the loss of Alice. We weep at the death of a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, and a cousin.”

Fr O’Hora said Alice’s death had raised many unanswerable questions for all who loved her.

“And if only we knew the answers to the questions that arise naturally in our hearts and minds at times like this.

“Why had our beautiful daughter’s life to be cut short at four years? Why did this happen to us?” he said.

Fr O’Hora said there would be no adequate explanation for the loss of Alice to her family.

“No answer can explain the pain of being parted from your child.

“And we are not here today to answer these questions even if we could. We are here to mourn. To mourn and commend Alice to God’s care. And to ask God to help us, her family, especially Ann Marie and John, cope with the death of their daughter.

“I know that Alice occupies a special place in your affections and in the affections of everyone’s life she touched.”

Fr O’Hora described Alice as a child who was “always challenging herself to keep up with her older sister Rose who was two years older than her”.

“Like many four-year-olds, she was full of questions about everything in the world.

“Because she was seeing everything as four-year-olds do, as if for the first time.

“She was filled with wonder, which fuelled her questions and fuelled the great zest she had for life.”

Alice was remembered as a “courageous child” who “seized every moment and squeezed every last drop of joy and happiness out of it".

“She was a human dynamo who packed so much into her four years of life, and [she] has left so many precious moments and treasured memories in her wake.

“And an exuberant child. I think she always had a smile on her face."

He said she had a smile that lit up the lives of all who knew and loved her.

"A smile that endeared her to everyone who crossed her path.

“You can see that smile in the photograph of her on the coffin. That warm smile was magnetic,” the priest said.

He said she was a “love magnet” who drew the best out of her parents and enriched their lives and the lives of all her relatives with her presence.

“And she was always so much herself, which made her charming and unique. She was well able to stand up for herself.

“And that’s why her death is so heart-breaking because she was a child full of promise with so much more to give.

“And there were so many more experiences her parents would have loved to share with her in the years to come.

“Little ones have immediate access to God’s kingdom of heaven.

“And we can say with confidence that Alice has gone straight to the kingdom of heaven.”

Fr O’Hora said it doesn’t matter how strong your faith is, “you still have to grieve as you come to terms with the reality of physical separation from Alice”.

“Today, in your grief, know that you have a saint in heaven. Cling to that hope, that promise of God that you will see her again.

“And allow your tears to wash away the pain in the days and months to come If you miss her and as she prays for you from where she is now.

“Her time among us was a graceful time, and even though her parting is painful, she enriched the lives of all who have come into contact with her. She was a real treasure.”

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