Devastation and disbelief as mother and her two young daughters are laid to rest

By Dionne Meehan

HUNDREDS gathered in St. Eunan’s Church, Raphoe, yesterday for the funeral of Úna Bowden and her daughters Ciara (14) and Saoirse (11).

Úna and her two daughters were fatally injured when their car collided with a lorry on the N17 in Castlegar, outside of Claremorris, Co. Mayo last Tuesday.


Originally from Raphoe, Úna and her family had been living in Moycullan, Co. Galway.

As three wicker coffins draped in flowers lined the alter, Father Eamonn Kelly spoke of the terrible tragedy.

Now “etched” in our minds forever, he said last Tuesday was an ordinary, uneventful morning that hid the devastation that lay ahead.

“Every life in this building was shook with the hardest of sorrows when the news filtered in with the loss of three young lives that only had 71 years of human life between them.

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

Painfully robbed of his wife and daughters, David Bowden watched on while being support by all around him.

Úna, who was a breast cancer survivor, was remembered for her no nonsense directness.


“One did not come away from a meeting with Úna wondering what she was thinking, you knew it,” Fr Kelly said light-heartedly.

“Her first words spoken to David were far from flattering but she was to fall head over heels with the man from Zambia with the funny twang of an accent.

“Well, at least compared to a girl from Raphoe,” he joked.

Úna, who was described as being a “serial degree getter”, knew what was precious in life.

“Her family of birth and her own family were her great pride,” Fr Kelly said.

“While she made friends easily, her real friends were family, especially David and the girls.

“Even in the sadness, we are grateful that Úna had a good influence on so many,” he said.

Just turning 14-years-old on March 5, Ciara was remembered as being the “ever watchful” and “caring” big sister.

She was described as being “crazy” about dogs, especially her own two Scottish Terriers Daisy and Boo.

“Ciara was quite brilliant at art and excelled at sport including gaelic, handball, rugby and was recently selected on the Galway under 14s basketball team,” Fr Kelly said.

“No mean achievement for someone who had only moved in to the area a few years back.

“She was noted as a team player and this is a wonderful characteristic,” he said.

The congregation then heard how “wee Saoirse” was the biggest Harry Potter fan in the “whole wide world”, and maybe even in the universe.

“She was not as outgoing as her big sister, but, when you got to know her you found the funniest, and very quirky sense of humour,” Fr Kelly said.

“She loved animals, especially cats and was most definitely the cat person of the family.

“She was a very good, solid wee thinker and loved making and creating with Lego,” he said.

Saoirse just made her first Holy Communion last year.

Fr Kelly then took the time to address the children who were present, especially the children from Scoil Naomh Bríde, Salerno Secondary School and Scoil Mhuire.

“Sometimes in life, things happen that we have no control over.

“Events that come for some unknown reason.

“Things like the accident that has taken away our friends, Ciara and Saoirse, and their mum Úna.

“These accidents naturally make us sad.

“We feel lonely, empty and unwell,” he said.

Urging the children to open up and talk about their feelings, Fr Kelly said it is good to share what is going on inside of us.

“Much of the time you will actually find out that your friends have similar sort of feelings.

“Likewise, with grown-ups, we too feel the pain and the sorrow, we feel alone and lonely.

“As time passes by, I invite you to speak to your friends, about your friends whom you have known and now have gone from us because of the accident.

“I invite you to remember the funny moments, the silly moments, the we nearly got caught moments. Laugh and cry with your friends about these things.

“Talk to your teachers and ask them how they are doing.

“Chatting, remembering, sometimes crying and sometimes hugging, all of us will get the courage to face the future,” he said.

In situations like this, Fr Kelly said we all have our own soothing comforts.

For Ciara it was doing basketball loops, for Saoirse it was hugging her cuddly white and pink unicorn and for Úna it was often cross fit weights and exercise.

But for Fr Kelly, his soothing comfort is poetry.

He concluded his homily by reciting the poem ‘Forever Love’.

Following Requiem Mass, burial took place in the family plot in the old graveyard, Convoy.

Meanwhile, Gardaí continue to appeal for information.

Any road users who may have camera footage (including dash-cam) are asked to make this footage available to Gardaí.

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