Tuesday 28 February 2017

'A silence has fallen across this parish' - Priest tells of 'shattered community' at double funeral of Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald

Greg Harkin

The remains of Kitty and Tom Fitzgerald are carried from the Church of the holy family in Irishtown, Co. Mayo after their funeral mass. Photo: Damien Eagers
The remains of Kitty and Tom Fitzgerald are carried from the Church of the holy family in Irishtown, Co. Mayo after their funeral mass. Photo: Damien Eagers

A community where a pensioner killed his wife and left his son critically injured before taking his own life will never be the same again, the family priest said today.

Fr Martin O’Connor was speaking at the double funerals of Tom Fitzgerald (75) and his wife Kitty at the Church of the Holy Family and St Oliver in Irishtown, Co Mayo this afternoon.

The couple’s son Paul (37) is being treated for his injuries at Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital.

All three were found at their rural cottage outside Irishtown last Tuesday.

Main: A hearse drives up a sealed-off road towards the Fitzgeralds’ home in Knockadoon, Co Mayo. Photo: Steve Humphreys; Insets: Tom Fitzgerald and his wife Kitty
Main: A hearse drives up a sealed-off road towards the Fitzgeralds’ home in Knockadoon, Co Mayo. Photo: Steve Humphreys; Insets: Tom Fitzgerald and his wife Kitty

Gardai investigating the murder-suicide incident joined hundreds of mourners for today’s funeral, with many sitting and standing outside the chapel.

“A silence fell across this parish on Tuesday last, the Feast of All Saints, when news spread of the tragic events in Fitzgerald’s home in Knockadoon,” said Fr O’Conner who con-celebrated the Requiem Mass with eight other priests, all friends of the couple.

“On hearing the news everything changed, nothing I expect will ever be quite the same again.  Many felt a knot in their stomach including myself, as we try to digest the sad news our friends Kitty and Tom were dead and Paul critically injured.

“It was one of those moments in life when we remember exactly where we were when we heard it.  So the news left us speechless and empty like orphans looking for a hand to hold or a voice to tell us all will be well.”

Flowers left by relatives at the sealed off road in Knockadoon outside Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald's home. Pic Steve Humphreys
Flowers left by relatives at the sealed off road in Knockadoon outside Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald's home. Pic Steve Humphreys

Fr O’Connor said the deaths of Kitty and Tom was a shattering experience for you their family and the wider community.

“The circumstances and nature of their going seems to empty the future of happiness and meaning,” said the parish priest.

“No wonder we fell silent and I think it is very appropriate today, prayer moves into that silence.  It is all we have left to do and say.”

Fr O’Connor said the tragic nature of their deaths “might lead us to forget the gift they were to you their family and to us their friends - the goodness of their lives and the contribution they made to our Parish community”.

He added: “We all have special memories of Kitty and Tom, these memories are the bridge between earth and heaven, memories that will continue to connect us to them into the future.

“Memories of their love, generosity and wholesomeness.  It is these memories we need to turn to so that you their family, and we their community, can pick up the shattered pieces of this past week and make something good and holy out of them.

Our tribute to them will be, with the help of God, to draw consolation and hope from the good we witnessed in their lives and reflect it in our own life.”

Prayers were said for the recovery of Paul from his injuries.

Relatives from the USA and England led prayers for the family.

The couple were being laid to rest side-by-side in the village cemetery, a few hundred metres from the church where Kitty had sung in the choir.

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