Community mourns as couple who died in murder-suicide laid to rest together
Published 08/11/2016 | 02:30
The son of a couple who died in a tragic murder-suicide incident is now in a stable condition in hospital, the family's priest has said.
Fr Martin O'Connor was speaking at the double funeral of Tom Fitzgerald (75) and his wife Kitty (72) at the Church of the Holy Family and St Oliver in Irishtown, Co Mayo. 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.
Gardaí investigating the murder-suicide incident joined around 500 mourners at yesterday's funeral, with many standing outside the chapel.
Detectives believe Tom Fitzgerald killed his wife and injured his son before taking his own life.
Fr O'Connor said Tom and Kitty were "cherished members" of the parish community.
"Their deaths have left our whole community stunned and at a loss to understand why," said the priest.
"However we also gather to remember the kindness, the goodness and the influence of their lives on all of us. We pray too for Paul's recovery and he is now very stable."
The priest, a friend of the couple, said a silence had fallen across the parish when news of the deaths emerged last Tuesday.
"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 tried to digest the sad news our friends Kitty and Tom were dead and Paul critically injured," he said.
"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."
Fr O'Connor, accompanied by eight other priests, all friends of the couple, 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 whole-someness. 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."
Pictures of the couple sat on top of the coffins during the Mass, with prayers read by relatives from the USA and England.
The couple were laid to rest side by side in the village cemetery, a few hundred metres from the church where Kitty had sung in the choir.