'The worst is yet to come for Biddy' - Priest tells mourners at prayer service for Clondalkin fire victims
Scenes of stunned grief hung over a funeral home in Bray where relatives and friends of the victims of last Wednesday's tragic Clondalkin fire gathered to pay their respects.
Laid out side by side today were Annmarie O’Brien (27), her daughter Paris (2) and her unborn son AJ.
The children of Biddy O'Brien, Holly (3) and Jordan (4), who were visiting Annmarie, also perished in the blaze at the Cluainin Cronan apartment complex.
Biddy O’Brien remains in a critical condition in St James’s Hospital having suffered extensive burns in the fire.
She has been in a coma since the fire and is not aware that her children have died.
Inside Colliers funeral home the three coffins and two caskets lay together as grief stricken mourners filed by, gently laying a kiss or a loving touch to Paris, Annmarie and Jordan who seemed to be resting in innocent and silent sleep.
AJ’s coffin and Holly’s casket remained closed, and topped with teddy bears.
Surrounding them were photographs depicting the vibrant lives they lived. One was of Annmarie holding Paris in her arms, and both had a hand and Annmarie’s tummy where baby AJ was growing within her.
Balloons depicting cartoon characters such as Peppa Pig and Spider-Man floated in the air at the back of the room, and the only sound was weeping.
Around 400 people arrived from all over the country, arriving in solidarity and leaving in tears.
Fr John O’Connor from Shankill, who had married Biddy O’Brien to her husband Jamie, said prayers along with Fr Paul O’Driscoll who ministers for the Travelling community.
“We’ve come together this evening to pay our respects to the dead and ask for their eternal rest. We pray that the Lord grants eternal rest to Annmarie, Paris, baby AJ, to Jordan and to Holly,” said Fr O’Connor.
“We ask the good Lord to bless their families and their friends, and all their loved ones,” he added.
After the prayer service Fr O’Driscoll said the families are only getting through their ordeal “breath by breath”.
“It's like a nightmare. They wonder is it really happening,” he explained.
“One minute they are okay. It is like the tide. The tide goes out and they are grand for a few little moments, but then it comes back in again and they are back to square one. So it is a rollercoaster.
“When somebody familiar stands in front of them the emotion is very deep,” he added.
Speaking about Biddy, he said her condition has not changed and she is still in intensive care with “a frightening number of machines and other equipment surrounding her”.
“She is getting amazing care, surrounded by a great team. She has had serious surgery which took four hours during which she was given seven units of blood, which has helped her, but it is an awful shock on her system,” he added.
“As bad as things are the worst is yet to come (when she is told of the deaths of her children) but her husband is there at the bedside as much as he can be. I don't know how they are going to face that when she is conscious and she is ready to hear that news,” he explained.
The funerals of the victims will take place tomorrow in St Anne’s Church in Shankill.