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Heartbreaking tributes to devoted mum and exemplary nurse as Ciara McElvanna is laid to rest

Ciara McElvanna Madden

Mourners at the funeral of an “exemplary nurse” and devoted mother-of-four, who died as a result of injuries sustained in a horrific collision last weekend, heard how “her last act of nursing will ensure that many more lives will be forever transformed”.

Hundreds gathered once again at St Joseph’s Church in Madden for the funeral mass of Ciara McElvanna – the second victim of a road traffic collision, which had also claimed the life of her friend, Patrick Grimley.

The 44-year-old was devoted to her family; her husband Kevin, and four beautiful children; Niamh, Claire, Dara, and Aoife. A family photo was placed upon the altar to reflect this. As was her tunic, representing her unwavering devotion to nursing and a Madden jersey, a club – despite her Craigavon roots – she called her own.

Ciara was one of seven children who grew up in Meadowbrook and later at Sugar Island Roads in Bleary.

Fr Aiden McCann – the celebrant – described Ciara as a caring friend, both at work and amongst family and friends.

Ciara began working in Craigavon Area Hospital in 2002, having studied nursing in Queen’s University and recently took up a specialist post in urology, having worked for years in both urology and general surgery.

Said Fr McCann: “It was in the wards of Craigavon that Ciara and Kevin first met and from there began their romance together, before travelling together to Brisbane for a year.

“It was then in 2009 that Ciara and Kevin tied the knot here in Madden, in this church, before this very alter, making their loving vows to each other, most unfortunately, till death do us part, tragically and sorrowfully, has come far too soon.

“Ciara was kind, she was warm, she was thoughtful. She was a good listener, she had a very positive nature with a glass half full mentality. She was a goer and very energetic. She was chatty, sociable and great at getting people together and organising dinners and events. She had a wonderful smile and a contagious laugh, excellent at planning and loved arranging, not only her own family’s holidays, but helping and suggesting things for other people’s getaways too.”

Fr McCann said that her and Kevin made their home in Kilcreevy and quickly became a Madden girl not afraid to get stuck into into her new life and making new friends, friends who will miss her dearly.

Two of Ciara’s oldest and dearest friends also paid beautiful tributes.

The first spoke of how Ciara ingratiated herself “into this amazing community” and how she became “a Madden mum”, swapping the netball court for the GAA pitch.

And while Ciara loved Madden, she was often back in Bleary at any of her sister’s homes “or a quick drive by for one of her mummy’s dinners in Sugar Island”.

She added: “Ciara dedicated her nursing career to Craigavon hospital. Qualifying in 2002, she secured a post in the urology ward – 2 South – and this was to be her passion. Over the years she cared for so many, and most recently had achieved her dream job as a specialist urology nurse, working alongside her best friend Nuala was an added bonus. The entire Trust and further afield has been shaken with the loss of such a radiant nurse and her legacy will live on and all those lives she touched.”

Testament to that was the fact that so many from Australia attended the funeral today.

She concluded: “I have the absolute privilege to call Ciara one of my longest and best friends, meeting 25 years ago through a mutual friend we just clicked and this was accelerated when we started our nursing careers in 1999. And we never looked back she was, simply put, a real gem whom I love dearly.”

Another friend described Ciara as “the most genuine, fun loving and loyal girl, an all or nothing girl. If you were lucky enough to have her in your life she gave you her all”.

“Ciara was a ball of energy a real Pocket Rocket who embraced life to the full, always the life and soul of the party and never let the fact that, according to all of her sisters, she danced like a rubber band and had not a note in her head. This did not hold Ciara back, as Ciara would say in her own defence, that she got the good looks out of all of her sisters.”

She spoke of how Ciara loved a prank and was “full of fun”.

“In fact, on Ciara and Kevin’s first Valentine’s Day, she decorated his car, which was parked at Craigavon Hospital with a dozen roses, hid in the hedges with her friend, called the porters to contact Kevin – that he had to go and move his car – and then waited in the hedges to watch the events unfold.”

She added: “If any colleague of Ciara was getting married, on their last day in work, Ciara was always up to no good. On my last day before getting married, she stole my car keys from my locker proceeding to take flour, porridge oats and ketchup and I was going to say a decorate, but I mean vandalise my car. It was at least six weeks later before we were finally able to get all of the porridge oats removed from the windscreen.

“Ciara was exceptional, loyal and sincere and words like warm and welcoming to everyone spring to mind but all of these descriptions fall far short, as there are simply no words or expressions that adequately capture the essence of Ciara. She was a uniquely special person with the kindest heart and most infectious smile, and she has left an indelible impression upon so many people. You simply had no option but to be her friend. Ciara had a way of pulling you in and embracing you as someone of importance.

“She would always encourage those around her to be the best that they could be. She was a great advisor and always supportive of her friends.

“In work, Ciara was absolutely blossoming in her new position as a clinical nurse specialist. This provided Ciara with the opportunity to display her many attributes as an exemplary nurse. She was utterly committed to developing her new role, and dedicated her time to learn every detail so that new skills would be mastered. Ciara’s work ethic and commitment was extraordinary and she mentored many nursing students, providing encouragement and support at all times.

“Over the past days, it has become all the more evident that Ciara has been held in the highest esteem by all her work colleagues, and most especially from the nursing and medical professions, many of whom are present here today.

“For the past 22 years, I have been proud to call Ciara my best friend, our best friend, and I will forever consider myself lucky to have loved her and to have been loved by her. Her parting gift, her last act of nursing will ensure that many more lives will be forever transformed. May her gentle soul rest and peace.”

Ciara was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery. You can watch the full service here.

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