HomeWorld‘In a split second, life was changed forever’ – man whose wife...

‘In a split second, life was changed forever’ – man whose wife and daughters were killed in Mayo crash tells funeral of pain of losing family ‘in one go’


Related stories


David Bowden, who lost his wife and two beloved daughters in a cruel car accident, spoke of the pride and admiration he holds eternal for them.

Una (47), Ciara (14) and Saoirse (10) died instantly in a crash on the N17 in Co Mayo last week. Today they were laid to rest beside Una’s mother Mary in her native Donegal.

The small parish church of St Eunan’s in Raphoe, Mrs Bowden’s father’s home town, today welcomed family and friends of the Bowdens from all over the world and from the village of Moycullen, Co Galway, where they made their home.

Una Bowden and her daughters, Ciara and Saoirse, died in a car crash on March 26 (Family handout/PA)

The three hearses drove past people lining the roadside and arrived at the church to the sound of bells just before noon.

Inside, flowers and pictures of Mrs Bowden and the girls were placed their individual coffins, with sports jerseys also put on Ciara and Saoirse’s coffins.

The funeral cortege arrives for the Requiem Mass (Niall Carson/PA)

In a eulogy written by him but read by his brother, Andrew, David Bowden said of his wife: “She truly was an excellent mother, and she truly was quite feisty. But, most of all, she was beautiful.

“Our two gorgeous girls were her world. Una was my soulmate, my confidante, and my world is so empty without her.”

Recalling their lives in both Zambia and Galway, he said she was a “tough cookie” who won a battle with breast cancer.

He added that his daughters had thrived in the “wonderful community” of Moycullen.

The three coffins enter St Eunan’s Church in Raphoe, Co Donegal (Niall Carson/PA)

Mr Bowden appealed for people to remember the happy and fun-filled lives his family lived and not the tragedy of their deaths.

“It is hard to put into words the feeling of losing your whole family,” he said. “It is the best I can hope for is they are at peace.

“They were all such beautiful girls who led short but full, happy and such fun-filled lives. “That is how I would like to remember them and I ask you do the same.”

Mr Bowden, who was working in Ethiopia when the crash happened, said he had already been booked to fly back to the family’s newly renovated home on the same day he received the tragic news of their deaths.

Paying tribute to his girls’ sporting ability and individual interests, he said Ciara was a “wonderful girl turning into the most beautiful woman”.

He added: “Saoirse was the quirkiest, kindest little girl.”

The coffins of Una Bowden and her daughters, Ciara and Saoirse, are carried from St Eunan’s Church in Raphoe after their funeral mass (Niall Carson/PA)

Ciara’s school friend Amelie said they would be “best friends” for the rest of her life.

She said: “Ciara had this incredible joy and excitement for life. She had an impact on absolutely everybody she ever met. Just seeing her smile could make your day 10 times better.

“Ciara’s youngest sister Saoirse looked up to Ciara. They loved each other so much.”

Parish priest Father Eamonn Kelly said the mother and daughters were ordinary people going about their ordinary lives that had been unfortunately “cut short” by the crash.

“What would we not give to see again one of their smiles?

“What a terrible tragedy to happen to a family as a dad looked forward to coming home to a family with his girls – and his girls looking forward to sharing time with their dad in their just-finished new house.

“But in a split second, life was changed forever.”

The funeral cortege leaves St Eunan’s Church in Raphoe (Niall Carson/PA)

Fr Kelly said Mr Bowden had been “painfully robbed” of his wife and daughters.

He added that the community would also support Mrs Bowden’s father, John, and his partner, Jill, as well as Mr Bowden’s parents, Gus and Eileen.

He also paid tribute to Mrs Bowden’s sisters, Eimear and Catriona, as well as her brother-in-law, Andrew.

He went on: “Words such as heartache, grief and sorrow do not capture the emptiness, the pain, the unfairness, the lousiness of what took place that day just outside of Claremorris.”

Flowers, photographs and sports tops were placed with the coffins (Niall Carson/PA)

Fr Kelly described Mrs Bowden as a “no-nonsense, serial degree-getter” who made friends easily.

He said she had fallen “head over heels” in love with Mr Bowden, adding that she had a “good influence on so many”.

Fr Kelly noted that Ciara had turned 14 on March 5.

He described her as an “ever-watchful big sister” and “team player” who was crazy about dogs, including her own two Scottish terriers which were also killed in the crash.

“Ciara was quite brilliant at art and excelled at sport, including gaelic, handball, rugby and was recently selected on the Galway under-14 basketball team,” he said.

Floral tributes at the scene of the crash in Claremorris (PA)

Remembering Saoirse, he said: “Wee Saoirse was the biggest Harry Potter fan in the whole wide world. She was not as outgoing as her big sister, but, when you got to know her, you found the funniest smart comments and a very quirky sense of humour.

“She loved animals, especially cats, and was most definitely the cat person of the family. She was a very good, solid wee thinker and loved creating and making with Lego.”

Today’s News in 90 seconds – 3rd April 2024

Fr Kelly also appealed to children, particularly those who attend Scoil Naomh Bride and Scoil Mhuire in Moycullen as well as Salerno Secondary School in Salthill, to share their feelings by talking with their friends.

“I invite you to remember the funny moments, the silly moments, the ‘we-nearly-got-caught’ moments. Laugh and cry with your friends about these things. Talk to your teachers and ask them how they are doing.

“Chatting, remembering, sometimes crying, sometimes hugging – all of us will get the courage to face the future.”

After the mass, Mrs Bowden and her daughters were to be interred in the family plot in the old graveyard in Convoy.

- Never miss a story with notifications

- Gain full access to our premium content

- Browse free from up to 5 devices at once

Latest stories