Cara O'Hagan: Gifted lawyer and inspirational friend
CARA O'Hagan, who died suddenly in St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin aged 44, was a bright star who shone in everything she did.
She was a gifted student, academically and musically at Dominican College in north Belfast, while excelling at speech & drama and a two-times winner of the Shakespeare Trophy.
She studied law at Trinity College Dublin where she graduated summa cum laude, the highest distinction.
Cara joined the law firm Matheson, rising swiftly to become head of its commercial real estate department and a partner at a young age.
Well known in the Dublin property industry, she was a highly respected lawyer and a role model who brought "immense energy and enthusiasm" to the job.
Outgoing and confident, but also kind and thoughtful, Cara put her life and soul into her work but always made sure she had time for her friends.
They spoke of her as a special person, someone who, in spite of her demanding career, always remembered birthdays with carefully chosen, delightful presents
A former teacher also wrote to say that "it is hard to imagine such a vibrant and capable young person is gone".
"Cara was a wonderful person and natural leader. She was full of fun but always gracious, one of those pupils who I will always remember," she said.
Cara was diagnosed 10 years ago with Systemic Capillary Leak Syndrome, a very rare condition, which she tackled with enormous courage and energy.
With medication she continued her busy and active life but sadly was unable to recover from its most recent attack.
A frequent visitor home to Belfast, her funeral drew huge numbers of people to St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road - the church of her home parish of Holy Family could not accommodate the mourners.
Three friends spoke movingly at end of the Mass - a life-long family friend who recalled many occasions in Cara's wonderful and fun company, a fellow student who described her humour and generosity, and the managing partner of Matheson who spoke of how much she meant to their firm and everyone in it.
"Throughout her career, she always demonstrated the utmost levels of integrity, service and leadership, and was held in high regard by her colleagues, her peers and her clients."
Another friend recently told how a passage attributed to F Scott Fitzgerald seemed to sum up Cara.
"She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful, for the sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile, even if she was sad.
"No, she wasn't beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul."
Cara O'Hagan died on February 22 surrounded by her loving family. She is sadly missed by her parents Denis and Carmen, sisters Laura and Sarah, brother-in-law Clive, partner Andrew and wider family circle.