Tuesday 6 December 2016

Garland of flowers around statue of Virgin Mary as nation grieves for dead

Published 12/10/2015 | 02:30

Flowers & messages of support at the scene of a fire which resulted in the deaths of 10 people at a halting site on Glenamuck Road South, Carrickmines, Dublin
Flowers & messages of support at the scene of a fire which resulted in the deaths of 10 people at a halting site on Glenamuck Road South, Carrickmines, Dublin
People lay flowers to pay their respects at the scene of where ten people from the traveller community died in the blaze that broke out at a halting site on Glenamuck Road in the early hours of Saturday morning
Margaret Donohue who was related to the Connors at the scene of where ten people from the traveller community died in the blaze that broke out at a halting site on Glenamuck Road in the early hours of Saturday morning
Members of the public at the scene of a fire which resulted in the deaths of 10 people in a halting site on Glenamuck Road South, Carrickmines , Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

A garland of flowers and children's teddy bears surrounded a statue of the Virgin Mary perched outside the entrance of the halting site. It provided the only colour on what was a sad, sad day.

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A short distance away, just inside the gate, was the charred remains of a family home where five adults and five children perished.

From early morning, crowds came and went - gathering at the makeshift shrine. But there was not a hint of rush among the silent throng - their sadness, grief and shock palpable in the crisp Autumn air.

Perhaps most telling was the mix of mourners who came to pay homage. They travelled from across Dublin, Wicklow and Meath - all united by the tragedy.

They came well into the late hours of the evening, some patiently waiting in line to place their flowers, or to simply gaze silently ahead, lost in their own thoughts.

But while some stood in solemn silence, others could not hold back their tears. The charred, empty shell of what was once a family home stood testament to unimaginable heartbreak.

The incinerated contents of the portable home - a kitchen table, an electric fire - could still be seen in the smouldering remains.

The detritus of a once happy family lay strewn around the courtyard. At least five of the victims were children, including a five-month-old baby. A scorched teddy bear, a colouring book, toy tractors, and three car seats for the children in the family were a poignant reminder of happier times.

A garda who had held vigil throughout the day was visibly moved by some the messages of condolence being placed next to his feet.

"God bless the children - may they rest in paradise," read one. The Keane family, from nearby Glencullen, left a bouquet of flowers with the message: "We pray that God will comfort you all in your hour of sorrow."

"Taken too soon", was the stark but simple line in another.

A group of 15 people from the nearby Kilternan Parish Church were among the mourners. "We brought some flowers from our parish as a gesture of our sympathy to the families," said Canon Adrian Empey.

"I was shattered to hear what happened. It's the worst disaster since The Stardust. It's particularly difficult when young children with their whole lives in front of them die in such terrible circumstances."

Irish Independent

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