By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA
A woman who died in a Co Tyrone road collision along with her niece and nephew has been remembered as “a beautiful soul” and “one of the most virtuous women of our generation”.
Julia McSorley, 75, and brother and sister Dan and Christine McKane all died on Thursday morning when the minivan they were travelling in collided with a lorry near Aughnacloy.
Mourners heard they had been returning from a funeral of a family member in Corby, England, when the crash occurred.
Four other family members were admitted to hospital, with two people having since been discharged.
On Sunday, people gathered at St Eugene’s Church in Glenock for Mrs McSorley’s funeral Mass, where they heard that it was a “poignant morning” and that the community had been “engulfed in grief”.
Father Roland Colhoun said the family is “immensely grateful” for the “courage and dedication” of the first responders that attended the “harrowing” scene.
“The loss of three members of a family, injury and death side-by-side, the hospitalisation of four,” he said.
“We include in our prayers for Mass today Colette and Ina, who are still in hospital, and William and Anne Marie, who have been discharged,” he said.
The priest paid tribute to Mrs McSorley as a “dynamic”, “selfless”, religious woman who had battled cancer and buried many family members, but “never entertained bitterness”.
He added: “Julia never wanted to be first, but in many ways she was number one. She was described at the wake as one in a million. Number one in the hearts of her family. Even her door number is ‘one’.”
Fr Colhoun said she was a maternal woman and that children and young people “gravitated towards her”.
Mrs McSorley is survived by her husband Patsy, her daughters Maria and Julie, her sons Patsy, Shane and Colin, her 15 grandchildren and her two great-grandchildren.
Those gathered also heard that the couple’s baby son Jordan died in infancy in 1995.
Mrs McSorley’s daughter Julie gave an emotional reading at the beginning of the service, her granddaughter Tara led a prayer of the faithful and grandsons Ryan and Dylan brought the gifts forward to the altar.
Fr Colhoun said Mrs McSorley had attended pilgrimages, visiting shrines in Knock, Lourdes, and Rome among others, and asked people to bless themselves with holy water as they left her house.
“We honour Julia McSorley’s moral remains with Requiem Mass knowing that this beautiful soul loved the Mass and was deeply devoted to the holy eucharist.”
He said she had attended Mass every Sunday and regularly on weekdays, too.
Fr Colhoun added: “Key events of her life took place on Sundays. Julia was born, baptised and made her confirmation, each of these on a Sunday. It is fitting that her Requiem Mass is also on a Sunday in the church where she began her faith, prayed regularly and persevered constantly.
“No words that you or I can say will do justice to this outstanding person, Julia McSorley, Julia McKane.”
A representative of President of Ireland Michael D Higgins was in attendance at the funeral.
Mrs McSorley was laid to rest at the adjoining cemetery, alongside the remains of her infant son Jordan.
On Monday, a funeral is to be held for Dan and Christine McKane in The Church of The Immaculate Conception in Strabane.