Tipperary teenager Elisha Gault is laid to rest

Anne O'Grady

Reporter:

Anne O'Grady

Elisha Gault

Elisha Gault who was laid to rest this morning

A numbed silence enveloped the town of Carrick-on-Suir this morning as 14 years old Elisha Gault was taken to her final resting place.

Elisha had reposed at her home on New Street from noon on Wednesday when huge crowds gathered to pay respect to the tragic teenager and offer words of comfort to her distraught family. This morning her coffin was borne from the family home by her parents and family and she was brought to the Church of the Assumption in Piltown where young people filled the pews and spilled out into the surrounding churchyard.

The Carrick-on-Suir teenager was last seen on St. Patrick's night, March 17, on Dillon Bridge in the town. Hundreds of volunteers supported the massive search operation for the Comeragh College student including the Gardaí, civil defence, the Coast Guard, Carrick River Rescue, Waterford Marine Search and Rescue, Nenagh Search and Rescue and Mallow Search and Rescue. The body of the missing teenager was recovered from the River Suir on Sunday evening.

Her coffin was brought in silence the short distance from her home on New Street to the centre of Dillon Bridge where a guard of honour of Civil Defence members stood to attention. The railings of Dillon Bridge were lined with candles as the town came to a standstill. 

A hearse carried family flowers including a wreath that just said ‘Egg’ - the pet name used for Elisha by her mother Grainne. 

Elisha’s family and friends paused to reflect on Dillon Bridge. As they threw white flowers into the flowing waters the Irish Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 117, which located Elisha, hovered overheard in a mark of respect. A bunch of white balloons was also released into the sky.

More than 100 people gathered on Dillon Bridge including many of those who had been involved in the search for the teenager.

At the Church of the Assumption Parish Priest Fr Paschal Moore appealed to teenagers to build a strong support network around themselves and said the community would be there for them to lean on. 

“We all need someone we can talk to, cry to, say anything to,” he said. He urged them to build support networks and to surround themselves with ‘real people’ not the ‘fake friends’ of Facebook. “Turn your iPhones off for a while,” he encouraged them to talk to each other. 

Fr Moore said Elisha had been beautiful but she took the only route she thought was open to her. She was wrong, he said, but it was the only route she could see. 

He said “the mind matters” and he urged all at the mass to take care of their minds. 

Elisha’s family were experiencing “searing pain” and mixed emotions, Fr Moore said. He told the grieving family, Elisha’s parents Grainne and Cameron, her sisters Chloe, Bhrianna and Saoirse, that the community would be there for them to lean on at any time. 

During the mass former classmates of Elisha’s from Comeragh College in Carrick on Suir joined with the parish choir and Mala Raggett to provide music for the funeral mass. Friends brought symbols of Elisha’s life to the altar including a mobile phone and a CD. 

As Elisha’s coffin was carried by her family across the road to her final resting place members of the Civil Defence again formed a guard of honour. 

It was the wish of Elisha’s family that their beautiful and intelligent daughter and sister be remembered with laughter and music so following the funeral mass they gathered in Carrick on Suir to “celebrate her laugh” even while they tried to come to terms with what Grainne Gault, Elisha’s mother, said was ‘a hole in my heart that will never be filled.’