Thursday 17 October 2019

'A gorgeous girl with a heart of gold' - shock at death of mum with baby in hospital room

Wonderful mother: Limerick woman Marie Downey
Wonderful mother: Limerick woman Marie Downey

Ralph Riegel and David Raleigh

Tragic Limerick mother-of-three Marie Downey (36) was "a gorgeous girl" with a "heart of gold", a close family friend said.

They described as "unbelievable" news of her death along with the heartbreaking death of her four-day-old baby son Darragh, at Cork University Maternity Hospital.

Now Ms Downey is expected to be buried with her infant son cradled in her arms.

Locals in north Cork and south Limerick spoke of their utter devastation at the tragedy.

Ms Downey was hailed as a wonderful mother and a valued work colleague, employed as a laboratory technician with pharmaceutical giant Novartis in Cork.

A post-mortem examination was carried out yesterday but results will take time to compile.

The infant's post-mortem is scheduled to take place later today.

Ms Downey lived with her husband Kieran and two sons on the Cork-Limerick border at Knockanevin outside Kildorrery.

She was originally from Ballyagran in Co Limerick.

Just three weeks ago she was one of the proud parents at Kildorrery National School to welcome a visit by members of Limerick's All-Ireland-winning hurling team with the Liam MacCarthy Cup.

Limerick Camogie County chairperson Liz Hennessy paid tribute and offered "condolences" to the family.

Councillor Jerome Scanlan, a friend of Ms Downey's Limerick family, said the entire community was shocked by what happened.

"They are a hugely respected family here and everyone in the community is heartbroken for them. Everyone is shocked by the scale of the tragedy."

Novartis issued a special statement, saying: "Marie Downey was a valued member of our team here... Our thoughts and prayers are with Marie's family and friends during this very difficult time. Marie will be fondly remembered here at Novartis Ringaskiddy."

In Kildorrery, not far from the Downeys' home in Knockanevin, parish priest Fr Eamon Kelleher said everyone was shocked.

"They are a very close community and take great care of each other and everyone feels the Downey tragedy and they are gathering here every morning to pray for the Downeys and to pray for Marie and the little boy Darragh.

"They are being surrounded by support but at the same time the whole community feels helpless."

Another friend said: "It's unbelievable, she was a gorgeous girl. She had a heart of gold, she was very caring."

The South South-West Hospital Group of the Health Service Executive (HSE) has described the incident as a tragic occurrence.

Counselling and support services are now in place for the family.

Cork Coroner Philip Comyn has requested the services of a specialist neonatal pathologist to determine the cause of death for little Darragh.

It is believed his mother fell ill and tumbled unconscious out of her hospital bed on to the floor.

Ms Downey was discovered by shocked staff shortly before 8am last Monday - and was pronounced dead at the scene despite desperate efforts to revive her.

Her baby son was critically ill and lost his 36-hour battle for life on Tuesday evening.

Irish Independent

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