Saturday 14 December 2019

Harrowing scenes as parents say goodbye to their twins

HELEN O'Driscoll stood slumped against a pillar outside her home not able to support her own body weight, with anguish etched on her face.

Her husband Thomas dragged on a cigarette, his face drawn, waiting for the moment when he would see his two boys' coffins.

Minutes later two hearses pulled into the yard of their Deerpark home in Charleville, Co Cork and the couple followed, accompanied by curate Fr Tom Naughton.

Clearly neither had slept the previous night, following the horrific turn of events that saw three of their children wiped out in a double murder-suicide.

Less than half an hour before their arrival in Deerpark with around 30 members of their extended families, deputy state pathologist Dr Michael Curtis had left, having completed his preliminary examination on the bodies of Patrick and Thomas, both 9, who still lay within the family home in separate bedrooms at the back of the house.

The little boys' bodies were naked from the waist up when they were discovered. Just moments before their deaths they had begun to change out of their navy school uniform jumpers, getting ready for an afternoon's play.

The O'Driscolls entered their backyard again, their lives completely changed since they had left it the previous day to go on a shopping trip to Waterford where they were buying a miniature caravan as a gift for their children. Now, it was time to say goodbye to the boys before they left home for the last time.

Minutes later Helen emerged, physically supported by a female relative, sobbing.

The couple followed the hearses which drove out onto the road, while gardai temporarily stopped the traffic.

It was a private, family moment played out on a public road while gardai removed their caps in a gesture of respect.

As Fr Naughton began to recite the Rosary, Thomas left out an anguished cry: "Bring him back" - as the first hearse had pulled slightly away.

Tender

Both parents stood with their hands tenderly pressed against the car window, weeping and saying goodbye while other family members closed the circle around them, praying, crying and telling the boys they loved them.

Mrs O'Driscoll went and stood alongside the first hearse, again putting her palm against the window and weeping, as if she wanted to spend equal time with both her boys before their corpses were taken away to Cork University Hospital for post-mortem examinations.

The previous night she told relatives she forgave her oldest son Jonathan (21) for what he had done.

At Thomas's sister's house on Bakers Road in the town, a large group of extended family has gathered.

Now the family endures the agonising wait for the three bodies to be released so they can finalise funeral arrangements.

Irish Independent

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