All they wanted for Christmas was their mum's health
AS Kim Wallwork and her little brother Harry watched Sunday evening TV with the Christmas tree lit up in another corner of the room, they knew the stepmother they called 'mum' was ill 30km away in Sligo General Hospital.
They were hoping and praying she would get better.
Within hours they would be dead -- killed by a gas that you can neither taste nor smell, carbon monoxide from a gas heater.
How or why it happened remains the subject of an intensive garda investigation.
The small bungalow where Trevor Wallwork and his children died is about 2km outside the village of Gurteen, up a 500m-long tarmacadam lane.
For English people looking to escape the hustle and bustle of big city life, this is just about as far as you can go.
The council-owned bungalow -- named 'Forget Me Not Cottage' -- is surrounded by open countryside.
Another bungalow -- where the Wallworks lived until three years ago -- is just 30m away.
Yesterday morning, a cross-collie dog -- which survived the incident because it was outside on a lead -- barked continuously as garda forensic officers combed the house for clues to the deaths of Trevor and his two young children.
Every now and then, the living room where the bodies were found lit up as pictures were taken, before the curtains were closed around 1pm.
One by one, the bodies of the dad and his children were then removed from the premises in coffins and lifted carefully into the back of two cars -- the children into a Ford estate, their dad into a hearse.
A number of people standing at the entrance to the driveway blessed themselves as the coffins passed.
Led by a garda car, the two vehicles drove slowly down the lane -- the silence only broken by the sound of a child playing at the back of the neighbour's house, clearly unaware of the horror.
As the cars turned a corner on the lane, the family pet began to bark again.
The children's dad and stepmum "kept themselves to themselves" said the neighbour.
"I only found out that Sue was ill a couple of months ago and she had gone for an operation."
The tranquillity of such a remote area was broken at 10pm on Sunday night to the sound of sirens.
"When I heard the ambulance I thought Sue had taken ill again. But then [Trevor's stepdaughter] Vicki came in to tell us what happened. It is horrible, just horrible. God help them all."
The community of Gurteen now waits to find out how little Harry, Kim and their father perished.
"We are very upset," said local Fine Gael councillor Gerry Murray. "We don't know yet why or how they died, but we do know everyone around here is grieving for them."