At 1.00pm today the Mass of Remembrance and celebration of the life of Laura Brennan will take place in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Ennis (capacity 1,500). Father Pat Malone, co-Parish Priest of the Abbey Pastoral Area, will be chief celebrant of the Mass which will be attended by Laura’s family, friends and the local parish community. Bishop Fintan Monahan, Bishop of Killaloe will preside at the liturgy. Bishop Willie Walsh, Bishop Emeritus of Killaloe, will proclaim the Gospel. In accordance with the wishes of Laura and her family for privacy, Laura’s remains will be interred before the celebration of Mass begins.
The Mayor of Clare Cllr. Michael Begley will be in attendance. An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will be represented by his Aide de Camp, Commandant Caroline Burke and Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D Higgins will be represented by his Aide de Camp, Colonel Liam Condon.
Attendance inside the cathedral is reserved for family, loved ones and parishioners only. Out of respect for the solemnity of the Mass, and to provide privacy and space to the family, media are asked not to use camera equipment within the cathedral. The Mass will be livestreamed and a designated area will be reserved and clearly identified on the cathedral grounds for camera journalists. Please see below information for media on the liturgy:
Music for the liturgy will be led by soloist, Helen Ball and Musicians, Michael Hennessey, Jillian Bridge, Hugh Connolly and Eilís Faherty.
Presentation of symbols before the commencement of Mass
Commentary: Read by Fiona Liston and Laura Daly (friends)
- Colin (brother) and Ali (friend) bring forward pictures of Laura’s family and her friends. Laura always expressed how lucky she was to have amazing family and friends. Laura had many close friends throughout her life with whom she loved making special memories.
- Cein (friend) brings forward a detention slip from Laura’s secondary school, Saint Flannan’s College. Laura’s enthusiasm and positive outlook often did not transfer into the realm of academics during her teenage years, occasionally causing Bernie and Larry to receive unwanted post! On this occasion, it stated that Laura was eating in class and blatantly denied it. When Laura was asked to put the sweet into the bin, she lied and said she wasn’t eating… but continued chewing!
- Enora (first cousin) brings forward Laura’s Clare ladies football jersey. Laura won an All-Ireland Division 1 Féile Medal in 2006 with The Banner. On the back of some excellent performances that year, she was selected for the Clare team. Her on field characteristics of being an uncompromising, robust and feisty corner back, mirrored her personality off the field! Soon after her All-Ireland success she hung up her gear bag and replaced it with a makeup bag!
- Marina (friend and work colleague) brings forward Laura’s makeup bag. Laura’s passion for cosmetics began at a young age and her image always meant a great deal to her. Her inherent caring, hardworking and ambitious nature led her to excel in her career. In 2016, she landed her dream job working as area manager for Nuxe Cosmetics, travelling the length and breadth of the country.
- Veronica (Laura’s best friend), brings forward a CD from their favourite musical, The Greatest Showman. Laura spent her childhood singing various tracks from B Witched to Britney Spears, Six to S Club 7, with gusto. More recently with Veronica, they would, in Laura’s words, psych themselves up for a night out on the journey into town singing “I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be, this is me.”
- Bernie (mother) brings forward a picture of Bailey. Ever since Laura was a child, she wanted a dog but was met with plenty of resistance from Larry and Bernie! Included in her letters annually to Santa, was a dog, but unfortunately Lapland had none in stock! Shortly after Laura’s initial cancer diagnosis, she felt the time was just right to get her little white Maltese. From then on, Bailey accompanied Laura every step of the way. They were completely inseparable, even at bedtime!
Read by: Sister Mary Barry, Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary (aunt)
A Reading from the Book of Isaiah
Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
The sun shall no longer be your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon
give light to you by night;
but the Lord will be your everlasting light.
The word of the Lord
Responsorial Psalm (sung)
Mo Ghrá Thú a Thiarna
Read by: Mary Brennan (aunt)
A reading from the Book of Ecclesiasticus
Let us praise the illustrious,
our ancestors in their successive generations. Here is a list of the generous
whose good works have not been forgotten.
In their descendents there remains
a rich inheritance born of them.
Their descendents stand by their covenants and thanks to them, so do their children’s children. Their offspring will last forever,
their glory will not fade.
Their bodies have been buried in peace,
and their names live on for all generations.
The peoples will proclaim their wisdom,
the assembly will celebrate their praise.
Gospel proclaimed by Bishop Walsh
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house; if there were not, I should have told you. I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too. You know the way to the place I am going.” Thomas said, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
Homily preached by Father Malone
My first words and thoughts today go to you Bernie, Larry, Colin, Fergal and Kevin, and they are simple but sincere words we use at funerals when there are no words that adequately express what we want to say: “I am sorry for your trouble”. These words say it all for us today.
Sorry to see you in shock and pain. Sorry that you have to say farewell to your beautiful daughter and sister. Sorry that Laura has died.
Colin we are happy to see that you are safely home and with your family. For the past week you have been in our thoughts as we were aware of the difficult and lonely journey you had to undertake from your work with Concern in Syria to be present at Laura’s funeral today.
We gather with you, the Brennan Family today, to share your grief and we hope that our presence today and the presence of so many people, friends and strangers, is a comfort and support to you at this difficult time.
We hope that our prayers, good wishes and genuine love for you over the weeks, months and years ahead will bring you comfort and help ease your pain. You have asked that we celebrate the life of Laura in our liturgy this afternoon. We thank you and all who have helped to compile this beautiful liturgy today in which we remember Laura in the fitting and dignified manner with which she lived her life.
My reflections today are my personal ones; I make them, aware that many others will have so many different memories to mine. What I say today reflects the woman I knew and the family I know.
When Laura was born 26 years ago, Larry and Bernie you were so happy and you set about the task of choosing a name for your little girl. Choosing a name for a child is so special. You choose the name Laura, calling her after her Dad Laurence, and Joanne a name you picked with its biblical implications, a name you selected because it meant “a gift from God”. So from the beginning Laura Joanne Brennan was seen as a gift from God, and so she was.
The significance of this gift from God extended to the whole family where Laura brought much joy and fun and life, and so many challenges too. Gift from God to friends with whom she enjoyed life. Gift from God to those she reached out to in kindness all her life. Gift from God to those she reached out to as an advocate for the HPV vaccine. In all those areas of life she made a difference.
In my contact with Bernie and Larry in the course of your journey through the past two years, I have been deeply touched and moved by your love and care for your family. Your strength and care, your ability to allow your children and especially Laura the freedom to do what they were drawn to do, is not only a wonderful model of parenting it also ensured that you, Laura and your family have no regrets about what you achieved. You took on that task arising from your personal deep Christian faith, a faith that grounded you and strengthened you in a very difficult personal journey. A way of life that you passed on to Laura, the true Christian values that can be summed up in one word: kindness.
A kindness that meant respecting all, thinking of and reaching out to others. A kindness that facilitated one being full of integrity and living authentically. You as parents, and Frances Brennan Keane and Liam Barry as godparents, passed on to Laura the Christian values that we speak about as showing the Christian ethos and Laura demonstrated these values all of her life..
We need to remember that Laura loved life, the excitement of life, the parties, the holidays, the concerts, the weekends away, time for personal pampering and of course high quality beauty products. Her personal goodness was evident all through her life and it was not unknown for her to reach out to a homeless person on the street, stopping to talk and check if it was tea or coffee that would satisfy the immediate need. So the courage, the awareness of the needs of others and the willingness to get involved in doing good which enabled her to engage as an advocate for the HPV vaccine was in action all her life.
Laura spoke often in the midst of her personal illness about being in control of her personal freedom to act. How true that was of her. That freedom was facilitated by you as parents and siblings by the manner in which you allowed and helped her organise her schedule while adapting your own schedules so that she could do the things she wanted to do, in the middle of her personal illness.
For this reason I believe that we, and so many people in our country, and those in the health services, owe a huge debt of gratitude to you, for the manner in which Laura promoted so passionately the call for women’s healthcare in our country and indeed abroad. And we sincerely thank you for that.
In the course of your journey with Laura, you did so many things together; one of the favourite ones was attending the Late Late Toy Show in November. Many in the family and elsewhere have wondered, and I actually heard Ryan Tubridy, a friend of Laura’s and presenter of the show, wondering how those tickets were secured. I want to end all the speculation now, the tickets were secured by Laura’s mam Bernie applying for them as a treat for her daughter knowing what a night like that in the midst of the magic of childhood dreams would mean for her daughter. That’s how it came about and this shows the constant care, constant desire to make life good that Bernie Brennan wished for her daughter.
Laura with great courage and with passion threw herself into promoting the HPV vaccine. With courage and dignity she accepted what she could not change and focused on trying to prevent the same fate visiting other young women and men. She approached the HSE and we know the results of that partnership. She tells it as it is and I quote, “I just want to be clear that I have no vested interest in promoting this vaccine, in fact as highlighted recently, its brought me some negative attention I could have done without. I have cancer as a result of a common virus and that brings with it no shame”. She then goes on to say, “my only reason for getting involved is my desire to save other families from going through this, to save other parents from watching their child suffer from a preventable illness.”
Again, we see her great desire to help prevent what is preventable and in that task she was a selfless giver who spent her energy to the last so that others may be spared the ill health that she experienced. In this manner of selfless giving she demonstrated the greatest Christian value of all, that we do onto others and wish for others as we would for ourselves. Laura Brennan is testimony to a great truth that “one person can make a difference”.
So today, as we celebrate the life of Laura Brennan, we are thankful for having known her, for the person she was, the work she did, the challenges she offers us and the courage and bravery she displayed in adversity.
Larry and Bernie when Laura Joanne was born you said you knew her as a gift from God to you, now in the assurance of your faith, you gift her back to God. You ask him to take good care of her as you ponder on the words of the poet Carolyn Ferreira:
“Although our lives’ journeys’ have bid us to be apart,
I am with you; you are with me, always in our hearts”.
Laura had a gold card to ‘Coppers’ in Dublin – one of her prized possessions – her good works go before her to ensure that she has a gold card to the Father’s Heavenly Kingdom and so we entrust her to his gentle care with our wish,
“May the Angels lead you in Paradise
May the martyrs come to welcome you
And take you to the holy city, the new and heavenly Jerusalem
May the choirs of angels welcome you to the bosom of Abraham
Where Lazarus is poor no longer
And may you have Eternal Rest”.
I thought I was finished but I felt Laura’s tug … ‘don’t forget to say it’, she urges me. Celebrating her life we must remember her work as an advocate for the HPV vaccine. In one of her interviews Laura said: ‘I’ll be gone soon. Once I am gone there is nothing more I can do about it so I hope you all listen to me while you have a chance, this vaccine saves lives. It could have saved mine, but it can save yours.’
Listening to her it is clear she is asking all of us here today to be advocates of the vaccine and to encourage those eligible for it to receive it.
May her good work continue to bear fruit and may her gentle soul rest in peace. Amen.
Prayer of the Faithful
- Aidan (friend): Let us pray for all who have celebrated Laura’s life and passing. Lord, we ask you to comfort them. Fill the emptiness in their hearts with the fullness and the presence of your everlasting love; bless them and wipe away every tear. Lord hear us.
- Stevey (friend): We pray for those who have life threatening illnesses; that medical research will find ways to combat disease and its unwelcome effects on friends and families. Lord hear us.
- Aghna (HSE/friend): Let us pray in thanksgiving for the doctors, nurses, medical staff, carers and home help personnel, who tended to Laura in her illness; Lord, we thank you for the great gifts you have bestowed on these members of our community, and we ask you to bless them. Lord hear us.
- Roisin (friend): Let us pray for Pope Francis, Bishop Fintan, Bishop Willie, Father Pat, all the clergy and those who proclaim the consolation of Christ’s death and resurrection to families and communities in sorrow. Increase their faith and make them bearers of lasting and meaningful hope. Lord hear us.
- John (first cousin): God our Father, you have gathered us all into the family of your love. We pray for all our deceased, and particularly the members of the Brennan and Barry families who are now in their eternal home. May the light of Christ shine on them. Lord hear us.
- Oonagh (first cousin): We pray in thanksgiving for our neighbours, friends and the wider community who have been so kind to us throughout Laura’s life and passing, and those who have shared beautiful tributes across various media platforms. May God reward their kindness, and bless their homes with heath, happiness and peace. Lord hear us.
Presentation of the Offertory Gifts
Liam Barry and Frances Keane (godparents) will bring the bread and wine to the altar which will become the Body and Blood of Christ.
Instrumental performed by Jillian Bridge, Eilis Faherty and Hugh Connolly.
Read by: Kevin (brother)
Not how did she die, but how did she live?
Not what did she gain, but what did she give?
These are the units to measure the worth
Of a woman as a woman, regardless of birth.
Not, what was her church, nor what was her creed?
But had she befriended those really in need?
Not where did she rest, nor why wasn’t she here
But did she bring back a smile to banish a tear.
This is your legacy and how we measure your worth,
Thank you Laura, for all that you brought to this Earth.
Words of Thanks and Appreciation
Larry Brennan (father)
Fergal Brennan (brother)
Remarks of Bishop Monahan
A dhaoine uaisle, a phobal Dé – as we conclude a most consoling and beautiful liturgy in remembrance of the life of Laura, I thank everyone involved in the special ceremony.
On behalf of the faith community of the parishes of Ennis and Clarecastle and the Diocese of Killaloe, I again extend my sympathies to all of Laura’s family and wide circle of friends.
I had the privilege of meeting Laura last month at the Clare Person of the Year ceremony in Dublin and I knew immediately that evening, I was in the presence of an outstanding person. I was struck by her strength of character, her determination, her belief in what she was doing and above all by her warmth and humanity. We all know she was very special and she will be missed terribly, by so many. However, as we heard here today and know well her legacy as a person and her advocacy will live on and achieve so much that is good, that is true, that is beautiful.
Bernie, Larry, Colin, Fergal, Kevin, relatives and friends we will continue to hold and remember you all in our prayers as you grieve the loss of Laura who was so special and dear to you all. Heartfelt sympathies and condolences to you at this time.
Go raibh leaba aici i measc na naoimh!
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam álainn gcroíúil. Amen.
- This liturgy will be livestreamed on ennisparish.com
For media contact: Father Brendan Quinlivan, Communications Officer for the Diocese of Killaloe +353 87 273 6310; the Catholic Communications Office, Maynooth: Martin Long +353 (0) 86 172 7678 and +353 (0) 1 505 3017