Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust

Grieving Mayo family grateful for 'unbelievable generosity'

Amy Gill, 23, from Mayo was killed in a car accident in Victoria on February 6.

Amy Gill, 23, from Mayo was killed in a car accident in Victoria on February 6.

Amy Gill (23) from Coolacht, Co Mayo arrived in Australia on January 14.

On February 6, she was a back seat passenger in a car with four occupants which collided with another vehicle in the small town of Euston near the New South Wales/Victoria border.

Ms Gill and her friends were on their way to work on a farm when the accident took place. Ms Gill and another backseat passenger lost their lives.

Her friend Catherine Langan from Bohola, Co Mayo was injured in the crash but is expected to make a full recovery, according to the Mayo News.

The tragedy led to a massive online fundraising campaign to cover repatriation expenses for Ms Gill’s remains. Although the initial target was only €15,000, nearly three times that amount was raised – €44,461 before the family stopped donations on February 11, only two days after launching the appeal. Her funeral took place on Monday, February 25.

Her grieving Mayo family has thanked everyone who donated to the online fundraising drive.

“It is with great relief that we can say we have raised enough money to get Amy home to Mayo,” Amy’s cousins wrote. “We, on behalf of Amy’s family, do not know where to begin in thanking everybody for their generous donations. The unbelievable support and generosity from all of you has given Amy’s parents and sisters some comfort in knowing they will have Amy home as soon as possible now.“

A large congregation attended her funeral mass at St Colman’s Church in Claremorris.

Parish priest Fr Peter Gannon, said it was a very difficult time for the community.

“Words can never relay the depth of grief of the family and friends and community,” Fr Gannon said, according to a report in the Mayo News.

“Not alone is there a numb feeling but there can also be a feeling of being cheated and being robbed of a beautiful life. On behalf of us all we express our deepest sympathy to family relatives, neighbours and friends,” he said.

“Amy was a beautiful girl in every respect of that word. Her life, far too short, gave pleasure and brought blessings to so many people, most especially her parents John and Ann and all the family. She was loved everywhere she went and she brought a quality to life through her warmth and personality. Tragic death is like a black-out, one minute the sun is shining and the next it is dark night. In the space of a minute our whole words can be turned upside down. Nothing can prepare us for something like this,” Fr Gannon told the congregation.

Colin Bell of the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust told The Irish Echo: “Whenever tragedy hits like that and the word comes back to the families, who do they turn to? They don’t know what they’re going to do and how they’re going to get the loved one home. One phone call to us can change all that.

“There are so many young people out in Australia at the moment and accidents do happen and unfortunately, it can happen to anybody. It’s tragic.

“Tragedy is tragedy no matter where it happens but when it happens on the other side of the world. You’re pretty helpless here at home and that is where we can come in and help.”

The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, established in 2013, has now repatriated the remains of 659 loved ones to Ireland from all over the world, including 72 from Australia.

For more information, search for the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust.

Tyrone man, 22, dies after Sydney motorbike accident

Tiarnan Rafferty, 22, died following a motorcycle accident in Sydney.

Tiarnan Rafferty, 22, died following a motorcycle accident in Sydney.

A motorcyclist from Co Tyrone has died in hospital following a crash at Marrickville, in Sydney's Inner West, on Sunday.

Emergency services were called to the intersection of Sydenham Rd and Malakoff St just before 2pm, after reports of a crash between a motorcycle and a car.

The rider, 22-year-old Tiarnan Rafferty from Galbally, was treated at the scene by NSW Ambulance paramedics and taken to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in a critical condition, where he died.

His devastated mother is prominent Tyrone republican Sharon Jordan, according to The Irish News. His grieving father Damien Rafferty is also well known in the east Tyrone area.

A spokeswoman for New South Wales Police said the driver of the car was not injured and that "she was taken to hospital for mandatory blood and urine testing."

Mr Rafferty, a former pupil at St Ciaran's College in Ballygawley, worked in the construction industry after moving to Australia in recent years.

It is understood he returned home at Christmas for a five-week holiday before returning to Australia.

Donaghmore parish priest Fr Gerard McAleer told the Irish News the local community has been left stunned by Mr Rafferty's death.

“I heard he was a lovely young fellow and this has come as a great shock to everyone in the community,” he said.

Colin Bell from the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust said the charity is helping to return Mr Rafferty's remains to his family but cautioned it may take several days.

“From Australia it could be anything up to ten days,” he said.

“We will try to bring him home as soon as possible.”