A YOUNG American mother whose husband killed their three-year-old daughter before taking his own life has returned to California after being "traumatised" by a legal row over his will.
West Cork farmer Martin McCarthy (50) changed his will just days before drowning his daughter, Clarissa (3), and then drowning himself in the sea close to his Ballydehob farm on March 5.
Virtually no major assets were bequeathed by him to his wife, Rebecca McCarthy (26).
Ms McCarthy has now launched a High Court action to restore her legal entitlement to her share of the family home and farm on the shores of Audley Cove outside Ballydehob.
The legal action was signalled on July 2 and strenuous efforts to reach a settlement over July and August failed.
The matter is now set to proceed to hearing. Ms McCarthy is taking High Court action to challenge her husband's altered will and is also taking action against his estate for trauma and distress caused by the loss of her daughter.
A friend of Ms McCarthy, whose maiden name is Rebecca Bailey-Cejnar, confirmed to the Irish Independent that she travelled to the US earlier this month to spend time with her family. The friend, who asked to be unnamed, said locals were stunned by the legal action and its impact on the grieving mother.
"It has been very difficult for her over recent months. The whole thing has been very traumatic and the issues surrounding the will have simply made things worse for her," he said.
Ms McCarthy discovered just two months after the double tragedy that her husband had excluded her from key inheritances under the terms of his new will. They had first met when she was a 16-year-old American student living in west Cork a decade ago.
There was a 24-year age gap between them.
The couple married in 2006 with Clarissa being born three years ago.
Mr McCarthy referred to her as his "princess".
For the three-day funeral arrangements, Ms McCarthy and her American family members maintained a vigil at the isolated farmhouse at Filemuck outside Audley Cove with her husband's family.
However, after the funeral she based herself in nearby Goleen in a rented property.
Her friend said the young woman was devastated by the tragedy and then deeply shocked when she discovered the terms of her husband's new will last May.
"It has not been easy for her. There are so many heartbreaking memories. I think she decided to go visit family and friends in the States to give herself a break and time to recover. It has been very traumatic for her," he added.
Ms McCarthy had insisted that her husband and daughter be buried together and members of both families walked into Schull Church side-by-side for the Requiem Mass in a gesture of solidarity.
The huge search operation for the father and daughter was launched when Ms McCarthy discovered a note left by her husband in a farm shed on March 5.
The note outlined Mr McCarthy's plans and said both he and his daughter were going to Heaven.