Thursday 19 October 2017

'Now you have five more angels in heaven' - Tragic funeral of Clondalkin fire victims

Procession with three hearses making way to the church for funeral mass. Funeral of victims of Clondalkin fire. St. Anne's Church, Shankill, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Funeral of victims of Clondalkin fire. St. Anne's Church, Shankill, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Sean Patel, partner of Annmarie O'Brien, amongst mourners after funeral mass. Funeral of victims of Clondalkin fire. St. Anne's Church, Shankill, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Father of Jordan and Holly Jamie Sommers, right, standing between their hearses after the funeral. Funeral of victims of Clondalkin fire. St. Anne's Church, Shankill, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

Three hearses drew the five coffins of the victims of last week’s tragic fire in Clondalkin to their burial amid scenes of grief today.

As they pulled up at St Anne’s church in Shankill this morning the enormity of the tragedy became too much to bear for many.

Sean Patel, partner of Annmarie O'Brien, amongst those taking her coffin from hearse to church. Funeral of victims of Clondalkin fire. St. Anne's Church, Shankill, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Sean Patel, partner of Annmarie O'Brien, amongst those taking her coffin from hearse to church. Funeral of victims of Clondalkin fire. St. Anne's Church, Shankill, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

In the first hearse were Annemarie O’Brien, her daughter Paris (2), and in a separate tiny white coffin - her unborn son AJ.

The second and third hearses brought the white caskets of Jordan (4) and Holly (3), whose mother Biddy O’Brien is still critically ill in hospital.

Jordan and Holly’s dad Jamie, hugged the caskets before they were brought into the church.

He clasped a pink rose in his hand.

General view of procession with three hearses making way to the church for funeral mass. Funeral of victims of Clondalkin fire. St. Anne's Church, Shankill, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
General view of procession with three hearses making way to the church for funeral mass. Funeral of victims of Clondalkin fire. St. Anne's Church, Shankill, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Annmarie’s partner Sean Patel helped carry her coffin into the church.

Fr John O’Connor of St Anne’s parish in Shankill conducted the mass with Fr Paul O’Driscoll who represents the members of the Travelling community.

During his homily, Fr O’Connor made reference to the fact that the families have suffered similar tragedies in the past, including the Carrickmines fire that claimed 10 lives 17 months ago, and a separate fire that killed Annmarie’s brother Andy in the past.

“For you as a family this is not the first cross that the Lord has asked you to carry. You have been called on on a number of occasions to share is the sufferings of Christ,” he said.

Victims of Clondalkin fire. (From left clockwise) Holly (3), AnneMarie (27), Biddy (aged in her 30s), Jordan (4) and Paris (2) O'Brien
Victims of Clondalkin fire. (From left clockwise) Holly (3), AnneMarie (27), Biddy (aged in her 30s), Jordan (4) and Paris (2) O'Brien

“We all know that. Pope Francis tells us that God chooses his best soldiers for the toughest battles, and I believe that these words are really applicable to you.”

“Without any doubt you are God’s toughest soldiers, and you can be sure that you are not alone in the battle of life. Christ himself is always with you and now you have five more angels in heaven to accompany you and help you to bear the cross,” he added.

“As travellers you are also part of a very strong and noble tradition and your culture will stand by you and give you strength and courage in these difficult times. We here in St Anne’s also promise that we will accompany and support you, as does the Travelling parish,” he explained.

“Last evening I spoke with Jamie and he told me how much Jordan and Holly loved their mammy, and how much she loved them.”

“Jamie is obviously deeply upset by the deaths of his two beautiful children but he is happy that they are together with God. They are together, they are not alone, and that is very important for Jamie,” Fr O’Connor explained.

“And he wants them to know that he will look after their mammy and that they will be happy together. Biddy is a very strong and intelligent person, but she now needs the live and support of all of us as never before, and I know that you won't let her down,” he added.

“No words of mine can soften the terrible blow that you have received, but I ask you all, each and every one of you , to put your trust in God and accept his holy will. the sacrifice he asked of you is enormous, but I can assure you, and I promise you today that he has something very special in store for you.”

Fr Paul O’Driscoll, the priest for the Travellers, said at the end of the ceremony.

“When you joined our family, our hearts were so full of happiness there was no room in us for words. You were growing, our hearts were so full of care for you. We spoke soothingly, sometimes sharply, fearful for your safety, but always, in the deepest places of our hearts we spoke lovingly. We marvelled at all you did and became. There is a place within us that is yours and yours always.  For the light you brought to us, for the special gift you will ever be. Thank you.”

The President Michael D Higgins was represented by Aide de Camp Colonel Michael Kiernan; Dublin Fire Brigade by chief fire officer Pat Fleming; and An Garda Siochana by Chief Supt Gerry Russell and Supt Pat Ward.

After the funeral mass burial took place in Springfield cemetery in Bray.

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