A TIGHTKNIT fishing community was left heartbroken after a mother died just two weeks after the birth of her seventh child.
Colleen Polly O'Leary (34) died just two weeks after the birth of her son despite desperate efforts by doctors and paramedics to save her.
Mrs O'Leary is suspected to have died from a clot or embolism early last Saturday morning.
Her youngest son was born at Cork University Maternity Hospital on November 2.
Mrs O'Leary leaves her husband, Pat, and seven children aged from 13 to two weeks old.
Her children – Padraig, Liam, Tomas, Ciaran, Donnacha, Cormac and Colm – were last night being cared for by the extended Polly and O'Leary families in west Cork as their mother's funeral arrangements were made.
It also emerged that a Kerry-based ambulance had to be placed on standby for the case call-out because the Castletownbere-based ambulance was en route back to the isolated Beara Peninsula from a transfer to Cork city at the time.
The Castletownbere-based unit attended to Mrs O'Leary within 50 minutes of the alarm being raised.
Friends said last night that the O'Leary/Polly family was too upset to comment.
Mrs O'Leary will be removed tonight and buried after Requiem Mass in St Kentigern's Church in Eyries tomorrow.
She was a popular and respected teacher in Urhan national school on the Beara peninsula and had helped the school to a prestigious EU Green Flag award two years ago.
Family friend Jerry Sullivan said the entire Beara peninsula was "shellshocked" by the tragedy.
"We are all absolutely heartbroken for the family. She was a devoted young mother and an absolutely fantastic school teacher," he said.
Mr Sullivan said both families were hugely respected in the Beara area.
"It has left a dark cloud over the entire area particularly as it is the fourth death involving respected local women over recent days," he said.
Last week, Castletownbere and Bere Island mourned community campaigner Kay Mullins (54), who is suspected to have drowned after being hit by a freak wave while out collecting shellfish on the seashore.
Mrs O'Leary's mother, Monica, is a retired teacher who was the principal for many years at Cahermore national school outside Castletownbere.
Mrs O'Leary's father, Brian Polly, is one of the best-known fishermen in west Cork.
She is also survived by her sisters, Edel and Laura, and her brother, John.