‘Ireland is crying’: Saoírse Ruane’s funeral takes place in Co Galway

Girl (12), who captured hearts during Late Late Toy Show appearance, was ‘far too special for this life’, mother says

Saoírse Ruane, the 12-year-old girl who died from cancer last week, had her funeral Mass today in the same place where she was confirmed just a year ago.

The parish church of St Peter and St Paul in Kiltullagh, Co Galway is across the road from the national school where she should still be a sixth class pupil looking forward to attending secondary school.

The then eight-year-old girl who announced on the Late Late Toy Show that she was “Saoírse Ruane from Kiltullagh” was remembered in her home village on Sunday.

The guards of honour which formed as the coffin drew up to the church reflected the many activities which she was involved in during her short life – Kilimordaly GAA club, the football team Kiltullagh Pioneers FC, the local athletics club and the pupils from Kiltullagh National School.


The symbols brought to the altar were her camogie hurl, her beads of courage from Crumlin Hospital, a harp, a school photograph and a photograph of her beloved dog Willow.

Among the mourners who filled the little church and gathered outside was the former Late Late Show presenter Ryan Tubridy who chatted to local children on his way into the church.

Funeral Mass concelebrant Fr Declan McInerney reminded the congregation that Saoírse had entered the public conscience in Ireland during the Covid-19 pandemic on the Late Late Toy Show in 2020 at a time when people were hoping for better times to come.

He thanked Saoírse’s parents Ollie and Roseanna for having a “little bit of your precious child in our lives. It something that all of us will remember this day and for many years to come. The joys, the sorrows, the ups and the downs of her sickness. The whole nation got a little bit of that special person called Saoírse.

“Many would have just thrown in the towels, but not this girl. She fought and fought and fought right up to the very end. Get up, get out and get going. Any day that you and I could do this is a wonderful day. It is people like her that are the saints of our day.”

Her mother Roseanna recalled it had been four years, three months, one week and four days since her daughter had been first diagnosed with cancer and it had been the “hardest, most testing and heartbreaking journey we will have to make”.

Referencing that it was Mother’s Day, she said it had been a “privilege to have been by your side and cared for you over the last four years. One of the last things her daughter said to her was, “thanks Mama, you are one of the best mamas in the world”.

“Today is no doubt the worst days of our lives having to say goodbye to our child. Today we grieve the best person we have probably ever known. You were far too special for this life.”

Her daughter endured setback after setback, but never left her spirits sag, her mother recalled. The family had been to Disneyland, Lapland and to Old Trafford. Their last trip was to London in December. “We stand there with no regrets. We ticked ever box.”

“She had made people feel better for her very presence. She was not the type to complain. She was the one complaining about feeling ill. When her death was announced last week, the country came to a standstill.”

“I will speak your name, your kind soul. The whole country prayed night and day for you. We ask you to pray to Saoírse.

“Ireland is crying. Saoírse you really are the nation’s child. You are in heaven now.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times