| 17°C Dublin

Widow dreaded coroner's case as reminder of idyllic life she once led

REBECCA McCarthy had dreaded the prospect of the coroner's inquests into the tragic deaths of her husband and three-year- old daughter for almost a year.

The drowning of Martin McCarthy (50) and Clarissa McCarthy (3) not only robbed the young American woman of her beloved family, but also the idyllic rural Irish life she had tried to carve out for herself.

It emerged last year that Mr McCarthy changed his will just over a week before his death.

He deliberately excluded his California-born wife Rebecca, 24 years his junior, from inheriting major assets, instead leaving them to family and friends.

Her husband's death was ruled to be "self-caused... drowning" off a beach adjoining the family's West Cork farm.

The farmer had left a note in his milking parlour outlining his tragic intentions that March 5 night.

The inquest ruled that Clarissa drowned after the child had been taken into the sea.

But any hope her family and friends had that the inquest might herald the end of a difficult period for the devastated young woman appears forlorn.

She now faces another battle with a looming High Court case over her late husband's estate.

Ms McCarthy is taking the legal action to challenge her husband's altered will and is also taking action against his estate for trauma and distress caused by the loss of her daughter.

A farmer, Mr McCarthy had built up his holding at Audley Cove through hard work in the dairy and beef sectors.

But he excluded his wife from inheriting major assets.

The legal action was signalled on July 2 last and strenuous efforts to reach a settlement over July and August failed.

Renewed attempts to negotiate a compromise settlement in October also failed.

If the latest round of negotiations fails to deliver a settlement, the matter will proceed to hearing later this year.

Ms McCarthy moved back to her native Los Angeles last September after being left traumatised by the bitter row over her husband's will and the tragedy that wiped out her family.

Friends admitted she couldn't face the prospect of Christmas alone in West Cork without her family.

But she insisted on returning to attend the coroner's inquest in Bantry in person, being flanked by her mother, her aunt and two friends.

Since Ms McCarthy left Ireland, the isolated house at Audley Cove has remained empty and locked.

Irish Independent