herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Town brought to a standstill as last of fire dead laid to rest

Funeral

The remains of Sylvia and Thomas Connors and their three children, Jim, Christy and Baby Mary going through Wexford Town after their prayer service.
The remains of Sylvia and Thomas Connors and their three children, Jim, Christy and Baby Mary going through Wexford Town after their prayer service.

It has been 14 days since Ireland was rocked to its core by the untimely deaths of 10 people including young children.

But as the last victims of the Carrickmines tragedy were laid to rest in Wexford yesterday, the heartbreaking reality was only beginning for those left behind.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and ministers Brendan Howlin and James Reilly were among the hundreds of mourners at the Church of the Assumption, where five members of one family were remembered.

Only metres away, a small boy stood almost completely unnoticed.

Solace

Staring up at the horse-drawn hearse, he gently reached out, stroking the horse's mane, seeking solace in the animal that would carry his mother to her final resting place.

Little Michael Connors (6) was orphaned a fortnight ago with his brother Tom (4).

Michael was embraced by family members yesterday as the coffins carrying his parents and siblings were brought from the church.

As the gleaming white caskets emerged one by one, the true nature of the tragedy hit home.

Inside lay baby Mary Connors (5 months) and her brothers Jim (5) and Christy (2).

They were followed by their young parents Thomas and Sylvia Connors, both aged only 27.

The people of Wexford lined the streets as the funeral procession brought the town to a standstill.

Strangers cried when they witnessed the tiny caskets for the first time.

Their journey to their final resting place started in Dublin on Wednesday and ended shortly after 1.30pm yesterday, when they were interred in Crosstown cemetery.

Earlier, chief celebrant Fr Aodhan Marken said the fact that such a young family had been lost made the tragedy "even more unbearable".

"When someone dies who has reached a great age, we say that they have taken a great portion of history with them," he said.

"But when young people die they take away the future, their dreams, their vision and their potential.

"That's what makes this pain, this reality so devastating today, so unbelievable and heart-breaking."

Bishop Denis Brennan delivered a message from Pope Francis.

"Having worked with the Travelling people over the years I have come to know, and admire, your lively sense of the sacred, and your strong family bonds," he said.

"I pray that these two traits, which are a hallmark of your community, will help you through this time of tears.

On Wednesday, the five other victims of the devastating blaze - Tara Gilbert (27), who was pregnant, her partner Willie Lynch (25), their two young daughters Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) and Willie's brother Jimmy - were laid to rest in Bray, Co Wicklow.

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