ADULTS and children cried in unison this Wednesday, as hundreds bade a sad farewell to eight-year-0ld, Zoe Scannell from Abbeyfeale.
The funeral had been postponed to this Wednesday, to allow her mother Allisha time to recover from her injuries following the traffic accident in West Cork on June 26 in which Zoe was killed.
Allisha arrived in the church in Abbeyfeale this Wednesday morning in a wheelchair, following behind the white coffin of her daughter and accompanied by her partner and family members.
All the big and small achievements of a young life, were gathered together on a table for all to see: the medals, ribbands, trophies and photographs which were testimony to Zoe Scannell’s zest for living.
And the symbolic gifts brought in procession to the altar also told their own story of a lively, little girl with energy to burn: her fiddle, her Liverpool jersey and scarf, her camogie stick, her soccer boots and dancing shoes, the leads for her dogs Penny and Bounty.
Then, just yards away from a large photograph of a smiling Zoe, taken at her Holy Communion earlier this year, were the rows of girls from Scoil Mháthair Dé, solemn in their readiness to do one last thing for a school-mate: to sing at her funeral.
And as their sweet voices filtered like gentle waves through the Church of the Assumption in Abbeyfeale, the poignancy of it all was heart-piercing.
“The name Zoe means life and aliveness,” the chief celebrant of the Mass of the Angels, Fr Joe Foley told the packed congregation, many of whom were forced to stand outside because of the large numbers inside.
“What can we say when someone so young, so full of life and vibrancy is taken from us?” he asked in his moving homily. “In this, as in so many things in life, there are no clear answers.”
But he assured the mourners, and the congregation: “God is with us. He has not abandoned us. His promise is to be close to the broken-hearted.”
God is not oblivious to our pain, Fr Foley continued. “Moments like this teach us to value life, to hold a little tighter those whom we love.”
Describing Zoe as a special, lively, engaging child, he recalled her First Holy Communion Day in April this year, when she was the first child to arrive at the church.
Zoe, he said, had left so many memories and brought so much light into the lives of the Scannell family, “all qualities unmeasured by the clock”. She is now in the loving arms of God, Fr Foley said in conclusion. “She continues to smile down on us. May her gentle and young soul rest in peace.”
Zoe’s aunt, Anna O’Sullivan spoke on behalf of the family, saying their great grief now was a reflection of how deeply they had loved her in life. She thanked all those in the emergency services and the staff at Cork University Hospital and then painted small cameos of a little girl’s life: planting a tree with her granfather, being close to her granny Alice and organising surprise parties for everyone in the family.
“We were blessed to have Zoe in our lives for eight and a half years,” Anna O’Sullivan said. “We have thousands and thousands of wonderful, funny memories.” But, she added, the pain would stay forever.