Tears and prayers for stabbed boys
Twin boys killed in an apparent murder-suicide involving an older sibling have been remembered as energetic and full of fun.
Thomas and Patrick O'Driscoll, aged nine, were found dead in their home yesterday evening on the edge of Charleville, north Cork in the Irish Republic.
Within an hour of the discovery their older sibling Jonathan, in his early 20s, was found dead about 15km away in a wooded area by a river just outside the town of Buttevant.
It is believed he died by suicide.
Distraught parents Thomas senior and Helen were overcome with emotion as black hearses carrying their nine-year-old twins Tom and Paddy pulled out from the side of the house on to the main road to Cork.
In tears the couple pressed against the windows of the cars as they edged away.
Post mortems on all three sons were carried out in the city's university hospital. It is understood the twins were stabbed.
As counsellors spoke to school children, family, friends and members of the local travelling community, the principal of the school Tom and Paddy attended paid tribute.
Sheila Cagney, of Banogue National School just over the county border in Croom, Limerick, described the twins as "loving, energetic and full of fun".
"This is a terrible tragedy for the family, the school and the whole community. We are deeply saddened by this event," she said.
"Our sympathy and thoughts are with the family and friends at this terrible time."
Ms Cagney said the focus of the staff in the days and weeks ahead was on the pupils in the school who are trying to come to terms with the loss of young friends.
"We will help the children to the best of our ability," she said.
Management, staff and pupils were said to be deeply shocked and saddened by the twin boys' deaths.
Tom and Paddy were in third class and had been attending the school for just over a year.
Experts from the national education psychological service of the Department of Education have been called in to support school staff in dealing with the tragedy.
Elsewhere, the Health Service Executive (HSE) was working with community health workers from the Travellers of North Cork association to support immediate and extended family.
It is understood the O'Driscolls were settled members of the travelling community and had adopted children and had been living in the Charleville area for many years.
"The Health Service Executive (HSE) wishes to extend its deepest sympathy to the family," a spokesman said.
For a second day a large crowd gathered outside the home waiting to express condolences with the family.
Prayers were said at morning mass which groups of schoolchildren attended.
Fr Tom Naughton of the Holy Cross Parish in Charleville knew the family and spent time with them on two separate occasions last night and led prayers in the town again today, including at the roadside as the hearses were driven away.
"The prayers are very, very important. I think it was beautiful to see such a show of support from the community," the priest said.
Some large blue candles and tea lights burned on a low wall at the front of the property as forensic examinations took place.
Despite the horror and tragedy of the last day a scene recognisable to any family was visible through a front window - two teddy bears resting on a windowsill.
Bishop of Cloyne William Crean extended his sympathy to the O'Driscoll family and urged people to pray for them.
"I speak for our faith community, and for all people of good will, when I say how shocked and greatly saddened I was to hear of the tragedy that has befallen the O'Driscoll family," the bishop said.
"Such loss of human life is extremely difficult to comprehend. I pray that the Lord will strengthen the family during this terrible time.
"I ask the priests and people of the diocese to pray for Thomas and Helen, for their surviving children, their extended family, and for the community of Charleville."
The alarm was raised yesterday evening at about 5pm by another sibling who discovered the boys inside the pink and white bungalow just off the main Cork-Limerick road and alerted neighbours.
A major police search was launched for Jonathan and his body was discovered in a wooded area near the river Awbeg at Castlelands just 1km from Buttevant.
Garda detectives are not seeking anyone in connection with his death.
If the murder-suicide suspicions are confirmed, it will be the second incident of its kind in Ireland in just over six weeks.
Two brothers died at their home in rural Sligo in late July - nine-year-old Brandon Skeffington was found with stab wounds in the family home at Banada, Tourlestrane near Tubbercurry, before the body of his elder brother Shane junior, 21, was found in a shed beside the property.
It was the first murder-suicide to occur in Ireland for more than a year.
A study released last August examined 19 similar incidents over a 13-year period from January 2001 to the end of June last year.
The report revealed that on average one murder-suicide incident happens per year and 46 people died in the period under review.