Northern Ireland

West Belfast family 'devastated' by death of Nuala Lunney (27) six months after mother 'Tish'

Nuala Lunney with her mother Tish, who died in September last year
Nuala Lunney with her mother Tish, who died in September last year

THE family of a woman who died suddenly six months after her mother’s death say they are “devastated”.

Nuala Lunney (27), a niece of murdered west Belfast greengrocer Harry Holland, was found dead at her home in the Glen Road area.

The Queen’s University Belfast graduate died a day after what would have been her mother’s 64th birthday. She was said to have been “heartbroken” since her mother’s death.

Teresa Lunney (née Holland), a former internee and Sinn Féin councillor and the driving force behind Tullymore Community Centre, died in September following a short illness. ‘Tish’ was a sister of shopkeeper Harry Holland who was stabbed to death outside his home in the Glen Road area in September 2007. After Tish’s diagnosis last year Nuala returned home from Amsterdam where she had worked in and run successful Irish bars. Following her mum’s death she began volunteering at Tullymore Community Centre.

Nuala spent Saturday night with family and friends before going home. She was found dead in the early hours of Sunday morning.

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Her aunt Geraldine McAteer, a Sinn Féin councillor and chief executive of the West Belfast Partnership, said Nuala had been due to take a road trip to Spain with her father this week.

“Nuala had plans,” she said.

“She was volunteering with Tullymore. She was going to volunteer with the West Belfast Partnership’s Easter schools. She did some training to work with children and vulnerable people.

“She was a lovely, open-minded person, very loveable. Not a bit selfish.”

Geraldine said her niece had been “broken-hearted” following the death of her mother.

“It’s very fundamental, your mother passing. Nuala was only 26, a young girl. Teresa had set up and ran Tullymore Community Centre. Nuala went up and volunteered.

“There’s an older people project and she absolutely loved it. She was very natural [with] a lovely personality. She was patient and very, very kind but she was an adventurous girl. She learned to ride a motorbike in her late teens.

“It was an absolute pleasure to be in her company. You always had a good time. I never heard anyone say a bad word about Nuala. She was very loving.

“We are totally heartbroken, just totally devastated. As Nuala’s family and with her many friends, we will be moving forward with love and above all hope because life is precious.”

Nuala’s cousin, Aoife Nic an tSaoir, said she “lived her life with bravery, always marching to the beat of her own drum”.

“She owned her quirkiness and wasn’t afraid to be different,” she said.

“Though she thought herself a nervous person at times, through our eyes, she was a strong, confident and vivacious woman.”

Requiem Mass will be celebrated at St Teresa’s Church on Glen Road at 10am on Friday.