Wednesday 18 October 2017

Son charged with killing his mother bids a final farewell

Gerard Vollrath (centre) with his arms around his sister, Anna Kirk, and brother, Paul, as they follow the coffin of their mother Vera Vollrath
Gerard Vollrath (centre) with his arms around his sister, Anna Kirk, and brother, Paul, as they follow the coffin of their mother Vera Vollrath
Vera Vollrath

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

A MAN charged with killing his mother in a nursing home walked beside his brother and sister as her coffin was brought for burial yesterday.

Gerard Vollrath (46) was one of the chief mourners at the funeral of his 83-year-old mother, Vera Vollrath.

He walked out of the Holy Cross Church in Tramore, Co Waterford, after yesterday's funeral service with his arm around his brother, Paul, and sister, Anna Kirk, and behind their mother's coffin as it was taken to the adjoining cemetery.

Mr Vollrath, who had been living in Austria but travelling over and back to see his sick mother, is charged with the unlawful killing of Mrs Vollrath at Killure Bridge Nursing Home in Co Waterford on January 9.

He was remanded on bail at a special court sitting earlier this week.

Mrs Vollrath's body was discovered in her bed on Monday morning by staff in the nursing home, where she had been living for some years.

She had suffered a huge stroke in December, and had a brain tumour and Alzheimer's.

Initially, it was thought that she had died of natural causes. However, a post-mortem revealed how Mrs Vollrath had died of suffocation.

Yesterday, the congregation watched as her two sons, Gerard and Paul, carried the offertory to the altar.

Gifts to symbolise Mrs Vollrath's life had earlier been placed on the altar.

These included music sheets, opera CDs and photographs of dogs she owned over the years.

Her daughter, Anna, was comforted by Vera's granddaughter, Emma, when she choked back tears while reading a prayer for her mother.

She prayed for the "nurses and carers" who had been "so good" to Vera in the last months of her life.

Chief celebrant Fr Michael Twomey described how Vera, a great-grandmother, was a woman who loved opera and said her passion in life was music.

She was a founding member of the Tramore Musical Society.

"Very often when someone we love dies... we think that it is all over and all that is left is the memories of a wonderful life," said Fr Twomey.

He said Vera had "come home" to the church where she was christened Vera Power, where she had made her First Holy Communion and Confirmation, and married her late husband, Paul Vollrath.

Young Vera had grown up with her parents and brother, the late Fr Tom Power, in Market Street in the town.

Fr Twomey described how Vera and her husband had travelled the country and lived in Fermoy, Co Cork, at one stage before returning to settle in her home town of Tramore in 1974.

Paul Vollrath, a merchant navy captain, and his wife had fallen "madly in love", according to friends.

They met when Vera was an 18-year-old volunteering in a seaman's centre.

A ship he was on had ended up in Waterford after he fled the war-ravaged European continent in 1948.

After her husband's death 16 years ago, she enjoyed gardening and had a dog, Blackie, as a "companion".

She was classed as a "professional singer" by many, the church heard, because of her musical talent.

During the Tall Ships Festival in Waterford in 2005, staff from RTE's Lyric fm had visited Mrs Vollrath while she was in hospital, Fr Twomey said.

This had brought her great joy as they dressed up as the Pirates of Penzance.

Irish Independent

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