The sudden death of a 26 year-old Co. Tipperary woman on her return home from a dream holiday in the United States last week has left her family and the entire community of her home parish bereft with grief.
Linda O’Brien from Ballinulty, Cullen died last Thursday after falling ill and collapsing at Limerick Junction Train Station after getting off the train from Dublin to meet her father Johnny. She was brought by ambulance to the Mid-West Regional Hospital in Limerick where she passed away.
Before travelling home from Dublin by train, Linda had received medical attention at Dublin Airport when she also fell ill there on arrival from New York where she had holidayed with two close friends, Aoife and Orla Ryan.
She is survived by her parents Johnny and Judy (nee Brennan) and her brothers Pat, Eamonn and John Joe.
The untimely and unexpected death of this vivacious and popular young woman, who was known for her great sense of humour and radiant smile, has stunned and saddened all who knew her.
Her funeral was the biggest witnessed in Solohead in many years. More than 1,500 people signed the bereavement book at the O’Brien family home where Linda’s remains lay in repose on Sunday.
St Nicholas Church in Solohead overflowed with mourners on Monday morning for Linda’s Reqieum Mass. Linda’s brothers Pat and Eamonn travelled from New Zealand and Australia respectively to attend the funeral of their beloved sister.
Fr John Morris, Parish Priest of Solohead and Oola, who was a friend of the deceased and chief celebrant at her funeral, said Linda was one of the most popular people in the parish and everyone was just devastated and numbed by her death.
This awful tragedy had drawn the community closer together, he said, and on behalf of the parish he extended his sympathy and love to her parents and three brothers and he wished to reach out to them at this time.
A moving eulogy written by Linda’s father Johnny was read out at the Reqiuem Mass by his brother-in-law John Brennan, who is Linda’s uncle.
Mr Brennan told mourners that Linda lived her life to the full from the time she was brought into this world to the time she was taken from them at the young age of 26.
“From beginning to end, I think we can all agree that everything Linda did during her life was done with a brilliant smile on her face, a truly radiant smile that brought joy and happiness to everyone she met. None more so than to her parents Johnny and Judy and her brothers Pat, Eamonn and John Joe.
“She was so naturally full of fun and laughter, she tried her hand at everything in life.”
Mr Brennan outlined how Linda was educated at Monard NS, St Anne’s Secondary School in Tipperary and Limerick IT where the majority of her “army of friends” was accumulated.
She worked in Twoomey’s shop in Monard, she tried bar work in the Hideout Pub in Solohead and took part in the Pride of Tipperary contest, where she did her family proud.
Linda also took a year out to travel to Australia where she made numerous more friends.
“Among her experiences out there were filling pints, picking spuds, shining shoes, jumping out of aeroplanes at 14,000 feet and much more,” recounted Mr Brennan.
When Linda returned to Ireland she began working in Joe Whelan’s Toy Shop in Tipperary Town whilst attending Pembroke College in the evenings. She qualified as a beautician and nail technician and went on to work in Tipperary Pharmacy, Tipperary Town, which she particulary enjoyed.
He said Linda was like a sister to Aoife and Orla Ryan, whom she was on holiday with in New York.
“They have told us that Linda had the time of her life over there, sightseeing, cycling through Central Park with a Dunnes bag on her bike and, of course, her favourite hobby, bargain hunting. All of which was, of course, done with her trademark dazzling smile.
“Thankfully our beloved beautiful Linda made it back home to her family and friends before the angels chose to take her. We sincerely thank you Linda for the magical 26 years of happiness that you have given us. You packed more into your short life than others do in a lifetime - you have left us with stories many and varied - you will never be forgotten,” Mr Brennan concluded.
He said Linda’s family had been overwhelmed by the support and help they had received from their family, friends and neighbours over the past week.
On behalf of the family, he thanked all who had catered and supplied and offered parking and stewarded traffic. He extended heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to Fr John Morris, Linda’s long time special and dear friend; the ambulance crew who attended at Limerick Junction Train Station, the medical staff at Limerick Regional Hospital, who did all they could for Linda and to Dr Caroline O’Connor and Dr Tom Purcell.
He thanked the staff of Iarnrod Eireann at Limerick Junction, who couldn’t have done more to help Linda and Whelan’s Undertakers for all their help as well as the priests, altar servers, choir, the readers and everyone who participated in the Funeral Mass as well as the grave diggers in Cullen.