Kayla Rooney, a popular 17-year-old who was involved with GAA, Irish dance, and theater, passed away in New York on July 5.
Rooney was a beloved member of New York's tight-knit Irish American community - a memorial was held in her honor on Sunday evening at the Aisling Irish Community Center where the teen was a member of the Foróige youth club.
Rooney's remarkable life was recalled in her obituary shared by Pelham Funeral Home:
“Kayla Grace Rooney, a beloved daughter, sister, student, and cherished member of her community, passed away on July 5, 2023, at her residence. She was born on August 15, 2006, in Yonkers, New York. With heavy hearts, we mourn the loss of Kayla but celebrate the beautiful life she lived.
"Kayla was a remarkable individual who touched the lives of those around her with her kind and caring nature. From the moment she was born, it was clear that she possessed a heart filled with love for others and a genuine zest for life. Her compassionate soul shone brightly in every aspect of her existence.
"Even at a young age, Kayla exhibited incredible strength and sportsmanship as she graduated from her dancing shoes at Deirdre O Mara School of Irish Dance to playing Gaelic football for Sperrin Ogs and Camogie and football for St. Brigids.
"On the pitch, she displayed dedication and skill, but what truly set her apart was her ability to uplift others. Whenever she knocked down an opponent during a game, Kayla would lend a helping hand to ensure they got back on their feet with kindness and camaraderie.
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"Beyond her sporting achievements, Kayla found joy in the arts. She had a melodious voice that could captivate any audience and loved to sing and dance when away from the field. As a member of the Riverdale Children's Theatre Group, she found solace in expressing herself through theatrical performances, showcasing her talents alongside fellow young artists.
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"Kayla's educational journey led her to Yonkers Montessori Academy, where she embraced learning with enthusiasm and determination. She thrived academically while participating in extracurricular activities such as Volleyball and Basketball. Her commitment to both academic pursuits and sports exemplified her well-rounded nature.
"One of Kayla's most memorable sporting moments was playing Camogie for St. Bridgets when they emerged victorious in the final of the Liberty Bell tournament. She was an integral part of the team, contributing her skills and support to lead them to victory. This achievement not only showcased her talent but also exemplified her dedication and perseverance in everything she pursued.
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"Some of Kayla’s other memories were spent with her family in Ireland in Co. Galway and Co. Clare. Her love of Grandad's farm and her absolute love of swimming in the pollock holes in the freezing Atlantic Ocean of Kilkee are memories her family will treasure.
"Kayla's incredible spirit was fostered by the love and support of her family and friends. She leaves behind a legacy of cherished memories for her dear parents, Michael and Siobhan Rooney, loving brother Jack Rooney, and adoring sister Sarah Rooney. She will be deeply missed by her beloved grandparents, Nana Kay Shine and Granny Josephine Rooney.
"Among those mourning Kayla's loss are also her extended family members and friends who shared beautiful moments with her throughout her life. Her Uncle Dylan (Sarah) Shine, Aunt Cathy (Darren Guerrin)Shine, Aunt Nuala Shine, Aunt Aine (Fergus) Daly, Uncle Thomas (Ursula) Rooney, and Uncle Christopher (Lisa) Rooney all hold precious memories of Kayla close to their hearts.
"In addition to her family, Kayla leaves behind numerous cousins and friends who were blessed to have known such a remarkable young woman. Her infectious laughter and radiant smile brought warmth to every gathering she attended. She is predeceased by her Pappy Patrick Shine and Grandad John Joe Rooney.
"A viewing will be held in honor of Kayla at the Pelham Funeral Home located at 64 Lincoln Avenue in Pelham, NY, on July 11, 2023, from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
"A Mass will follow at St. Barnabas Church, located at 409 E. 241st Street in Bronx, NY, on July 12, 2023 at noon. The interment will be private.
"In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Kayla's name to the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust.
"Kayla Grace Rooney will forever remain in our hearts as a beacon of light, reminding us to live our lives with compassion and joy. Her legacy will continue to inspire us to embrace each day as she did - with love, kindness, and unwavering spirit. Although her physical presence is no longer with us, her caring nature continues through the most selfless act of donating her organs to save the lives of many. May she rest in eternal peace."