A GUARD of honour will be formed at the funeral of murder victim Karen Buckley today by her fellow nursing graduates of the University of Limerick, who have been behind a campaign to help her family.
Two weeks after the murder of Karen, 24, her remains were repatriated home from Glasgow this week via a special Aer Lingus Regional flight.
Thousands of people turned out at the removal in Mallow last night, from O’Connell’s funeral home.
Guards of honour were formed from Karen’s former schools, St Mary’s secondary and her nursing classmates from the University of Limerick.
There were emotional scenes as the coffin was removed from the funeral home on St James Avenue for Karen’s short final journey back to her native Analeentha outside Mourneabbey.
Among those who paid their respects to her family were students and lecturers from her days at UL, where she graduated from in 2013.
The coffin was shouldered by Karen’s heartbroken father, John, 62, and her devastated brothers, Brendan, 32, Kieran, 28, and Damien, 27. Her mother, Marian, 61, a native of Galbally, county Limerick, was close by as it left the funeral home shortly after 8pm.
Karen’s funeral mass will take place at the Church of St Michael the Archangel, Analeentha, at 2pm today with burial afterwards at St John’s Cemetery, Burnfort, alongside her grandparents.
The occupational therapy student, who had only recently moved to Scotland to begin her MA, was found dead on an isolated Glasgow hill farm on April 15, just three days after a massive search operation was launched.
Courier firm operator Alexander Pacteau, 21, has been charged with Karen’s murder.
A special rosary and prayer vigil was held on Sunday night at the family’s home, outside Mourneabbey-Analeentha.
Friends and former classmates of hers in Limerick helped raise some €70,000 through an online account for her distraught family to assist them with any financial expenses during this time.
A book of condolences, which opened in UL, will also be presented to her family in the coming days.
“I knew Karen over the four years she was here. She was an excellent student, she had such an open and bubbly personality and was very popular and because of that she made lots of friends,” said Anne Fahy, course director in the undergraduate nursing programme at UL.
“She had a very kind heart and her whole aim in life was to help people, which is very evident from all the support that we are getting from people in the past few days and the acknowledgement from around the world,” she said.
During her four years in Limerick, Karen spent a large portion of her time working with the local health service including University Hospital Limerick and St John’s Hospital in Ennis.
“She was a beautiful girl in the sense that she was very open and extremely obliging and helpful,” added Ms Fahy.
Dr Pauline O’Reilly, head of the nursing and midwifery department at UL, said the entire college community was shocked and saddened.
“When you start a career in nursing you meet friends and those friends are friends for life, so our thoughts are with her friends and her colleagues,” said Dr O’Reilly.
“I would have taught Karen myself and she would have been a very bright and a very engaging girl.”