SHE would have turned 31 last week and “won the hearts of so many people” before being tragically killed in a traffic accident in her adopted city of Limerick.
Spaniard Natalia Jimenez Martinez was killed in a fatal collision with a truck at the junction of Rutland Street and Charlotte Quay last July. She was just 30 years old.
Ms Jimenez Martinez, who was originally from Murcia in Spain, had been living in Limerick for seven years.
She was cycling to work in Cook Medical in the National Technological Park in Plassey when the incident occurred. Ms Jimenez Martinez died instantly as a result of the collision.
Since the tragic accident, colleagues of the “radiant” Natalia have been leaving flowers for her at the railings of the Hunt Museum.
There has been “an endless supply of flowers on the railings - every week since, not just one solitary bunch, but an array,” said Hunt director Dr Hugh Maguire.
The colourful flowers have also been further supplemented in recent days with colourful stars, a tribute to the popular Spaniard, whose tragic death caused unimaginable grief to her long-term partner Paul Hynan, from county Limerick, her many friends and her colleagues in Cook Medical.
One friend, Catherine Moloney, contacted the Limerick Leader this week, days after Natalia would have been due to turn 31 on February 17. Ms Moloney said she was “one of the lucky ones who knew Natalia since she moved here over seven years ago.
“I was first introduced to her when her boyfriend, Paul, brought her to my home to meet us all,” she explained of Ms Jimenez Martinez, a keen photographer who took hundreds if not thousands of photos of her life in Limerick.
“From the first moment, I knew she was very special. Not only was she beautiful on the outside, she had a radiant light that just shone from her. She was so bubbly and a very loving girl, it was impossible not to love her.
“Over the years I got to know her better as she became a frequent visitor to my home.
“She loved her family so much, she was the perfect daughter, sister, aunt, girlfriend, friend. She loved Ireland with a passion and she loved Limerick city most of all.
“She spoke so highly of her beloved Ireland and brought so many of her family and friends over from Murcia, for them to experience what she loved about her adopted city and country.
“She loved all her friends and workmates here so much and she wanted her family to meet them all.
“She was a highly intelligent and very articulate young woman, she spoke English like a native, she even learned some of our slang words, which always made her laugh.
“She loved her life and she lived it to the full. She was a joy to be with because her happiness was infectious.
“Natalia won the hearts of so many people in her short 30 years,” added Ms Moloney.
Ms Jimenez Martinez, who was buried in her native country, was the youngest daughter of prominent Spanish regional government official and academic Pedro Jimenez Mompean.