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“Lavine and Sheena could not bear to be parted” – family mourns the loss of two very special daughters

A Lissummon family has been plunged into grief following the tragic loss of both their daughters within just three weeks of each other.  

Last month, devoted parents Brian and Angela Murtagh laid to rest their first born daughter, 36 year old Lavine, after she passed away on April 17th.  Barely one month later, the couple’s grief was compounded by the death of second daughter Sheena (33) on May 8th. Both women had cerebral palsy.

The close-knit community of Lissummon has been rocked by the double-tragedy, with locals left  ‘shocked and saddened’ at the passing of the two women, who were hugely popular and well-known throughout the district. 

Hundreds of mourners packed the Church of Immaculate Conception in Lissummon for Sheena’s Requiem Mass on 11th May, just three weeks after attending funeral Mass for her beloved sister, Lavine. The order of service bore photographs of the two sisters accompanied by a moving tribute which read, “My love for my sister is so strong, we are reunited again side by side blessed as angels watching over from heaven.”

Speaking to The Examiner about their unimaginable loss, the girls’ grieving Aunt, Irene Murtagh, said the family home “will never be the same again.”

“In a matter of weeks, Brian and Angela’s home has gone from one full of noise and laughter and carers coming and going to help with the girls, to just the two of them.  It’s been very hard to take in that both of the girls have gone.”

 Irene described her nieces as “bubbly, affectionate and full of fun.” 

“There wasn’t a county in Ireland they didn’t visit,” she said, referring to the girls’ love of set dancing which saw them travel all over Ireland to céilís with their family.

“Brian and Angela devoted their lives to caring for the girls.  They gave them a fantastic life, giving them every opportunity to live life to the full.  They were always out enjoying time with them, taking them on holiday.  They were involved in every occasion and were the centre of attention wherever they went.

“The girls really were inseparable and we believe one just couldn’t live without the other,” added Irene.

Sheena worked in the Windsor Day Centre in Newry,  which both girls also attended, and was “loved by all the staff and her peers.”

Irene describes Sheena as the more outgoing of the sisters, “always up for the craic and loved having a laugh,” while Lavine was the quieter of the two, Irene’s “special girl.” 

“We just loved them both to bits,” said Irene, “Our lives will never be the same again without them,” said Irene.

Tributes have been paid to both sisters over the last month, with Martin Rice, chairman of Lissummon GFC, expressing the sympathies of its members to the Murtagh family.

He said Lavine and Sheena will be greatly missed by everyone in Lissummon and offered the thoughts and prayers of the club for parents, Brian and Angela, “during this very difficult time losing two daughters so closely together.”

The Examiner extends heartfelt condolences to the Murtagh, Casey, McKinley and Byrnes families who continue to grieve the passing of Lavine and Sheena, two very special girls who will be sorely missed by their family, friends and the entire community.