Saturday 23 September 2017

Devastated family remember arson victim Mari (5)

Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

THE heartbroken family of a small child killed in an arson attack held a vigil at the scene of her death last night on the eve of her first anniversary.

Mari Keane Connolly was just five years old when she died in a blaze set deliberately at the home of her dad, Richard Connolly, in Boyle, Co Roscommon, on October 3, 2011.

She had been staying there with her two older sisters, Lauren and Naomi, while mother Teresa Keane was in Sligo hospital after giving birth to twin girls, Ava and Layla.

Last night Teresa was joined by Richard, her former partner, and family members as they held a vigil at the home where Mari died.

The devastated mum laid a pink rose at the site where she died. The family also hung a picture of little Mari in the Termon Road home of her father.

"It isn't easy facing this first anniversary but I'll spend it with the kids and all my family. The girls know that it's been a year," said Teresa.

Teresa and Richard both visited Mari's grave yesterday, a journey they have made daily since her death. Her mum revealed how family members visit the grave every night to leave candles -- because they don't want their daughter to be alone in the dark.

"We always try and remember the good things but for myself and Richard it's so hard," she said.

The family is also planning to hold a mass on Sunday to remember Mari.

"We'll all wear pink again for that. She just loved it and it always reminds me of her," explained Teresa.

"It doesn't feel like a year. I can remember every detail of it. Richard taking the girls in to see me after I had the twins. They had to come up on the train. Saying goodbye to Mari that night and then the phonecall from Richard's sister telling me what had happened. I'll never forget it," she added.

In June John Lynch (33), originally from Sligo and with an address at Church View in Boyle, Co Roscommon, was jailed for 13 years for Mari's manslaughter along with charges of arson and causing serious harm.

He had set fire to the house in a bid to exact revenge on an uncle of Mari's, John 'Boy' Connolly, who he had found lying on a bed, fully clothed, with his girlfriend Anita O'Hara, following a house party on August 21, 2011.

Irish Independent

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