Nora Quoirin was special – Barbara McCarthy

When the harrowing news was confirmed that Nora Quoirin’s body was found just 2.5 kilometres from the Dusun resort where she was holidaying with her family, it was difficult not to shed a tear.

We hear horrible news everyday- wars, humanitarian crisis, gang rapes, disenfranchisment, famines, floods, mass shootings, bombings, gratuitous, unneccessary violence, terrorism, climate change armageddon, forest fires and natural disasters and yet we somehow decompartmentalise and get on with our lives. 

We have to, for the sake of our own survival and yet when we heard about Nora, the 15-year-old vulnerable girl with such a distinctly Irish name, and a dark brown mop of curly hair, lovable features and a cute innocent face, you just want to kiss, squeeze and hug deeply, it just punched us in the heart.

Wars in far away places are easier to process. Nora is from home. 

The fact that she was alone in a forest, without her mum Meabh, her dad Sebastian, her two siblings and her favourite things for comfort is too much bare. Her parents will never be able to fathom how the trip of a lifetime turned into the most gruesome of nightmares.

They did nothing wrong, other than go on holidays. Now they are forever lumbered with the how? The why? The disbelief, the torture that they didn’t find her and that she could have been just meters away from them, almost close enough to touch, and yet so far away. In the normal sequence of events, she should be safe with them.

Her mum said she wouldn’t just wander off on her own. “She has been to Asia, and many European countries before, and has never wandered off or got lost,” she said. 

In a statement issued by the Lucie Blackman Trust, her parents said: “The initial post-mortem results have given some information that help us to understand Nóra’s cause of death. But our beautiful innocent girl died in extremely complex circumstances and we are hoping that soon we will have more answers to our many questions. We are still struggling to understand the events of the last 10 days.”

Charles Morel, a solicitor, speaking on behalf of her parents, said they refused to rule out a criminal element.

“It’s not in her temperament to go out in the night after a long trip in a place she doesn’t know, in the jungle. “Even the place where she was found, 2km from the resort, it’s very strange that she could go there by herself alone, so we cannot exclude the criminal hypothesis.”

Either way. If someone else was involved, or indeed if she just wandered off, her parents are in living hell.

President Higgins and his wife Sabina offered their “deepest condolences” to Nora’s parents, to her siblings and to her extended family.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that the situation was “every family’s worst nightmare,” He tweeted: “Our thoughts & sincere condolences are with Nora Quoirin’s parents, siblings & wider family at this unimaginably difficult time. They have experienced every family’s worst nightmare.”

Words of comfort, but they will do little to change the situation. We don’t know the details of what happened that night. How Nora ended up leaving her sanctuary, and how she ended up in a waterfall nearby when over 300 people were looking for her for days. 

We can only speculate. But we won’t dishonor her by going into the details of her death, or the oddity of her disappearance. 

So let’s just leave it with a few words about her from her family who will miss her terribly and inexplicably. “Nóra likes to walk with her family. Nóra is “fun, funny, and extremely loving,” they said. “She is not like other teenagers.”

A vulnerable 15-year-old girl who was born with holoprosencephaly, a rare congenital brain malformation resulting from incomplete separation of the right and left hemispheres “truly touched the world” they said.

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