A MOTHER yesterday told of heartbreak at losing two children in tragic circumstances in just six months.
Helen O'Reilly (31) and her husband Michael (32) are waiting on a move away from the Traveller halting site just outside Kilkenny city where both children died, to a house in the countryside where they can raise their remaining six children.
Aaron, who was just six weeks and three days old, died on October 29 last year after catching an infection.
And on March 11, Timmy (3) died in a tragic accident in the family's mobile home.
"I blame myself," Mr O'Reilly told the Irish Independent yesterday.
"I had left here just 10 minutes when I got a phone call to say that Timmy had been taken to the hospital."
Mrs O'Reilly said she was "heartbroken" and was constantly worried about their remaining children.
"If I had 20 more children they wouldn't make up for the two we have lost," she said.
Last October, Aaron was sick for a number of days and she brought him to the doctor. But one morning she woke to find him stiff and not breathing. He was declared dead in the hospital a short time later.
In keeping with their tradition, the bedroom in which Aaron died was sealed up.
They had been working with Kilkenny County Council to try and source a new home when a second son tragically died in their home at St Catherine's halting site last month.
Timmy was playing with a ball whilst sitting on a car seat placed on a bed in their home. Mrs O'Reilly popped out for a moment and when she returned the car seat, with Timmy strapped inside, had fallen over.
He was rushed to hospital but also died. The exact cause of death is not yet known.
The council removed their mobile home on the day of Timmy's funeral and the O'Reilly family moved into another mobile home adjacent to the halting site.
"We were saving money for our own house in the country but we had to use that money to buy the mobile home. We couldn't stay in the old one with what happened," said Michael.
Locals have said the local Traveller community has been hard hit with cutbacks, with the local health nurse, teaching aides, and school transport all cut. John McCormack, director of services with the council, said they were working to have them re-housed in the coming months. Mr and Mrs O'Reilly and their remaining children -- Michael (10), James (7), Tony (6), William (5), Jason (4) and Princess (2) -- are now living in a small mobile home just yards away from the site where the two children died.
"Timmy was my shadow," said Mrs O'Reilly last night. "Everywhere I went he went with me. I can't look at the (halting) site because that was where Timmy used to play. Every time I look around I think I'm going to see him. We're heartbroken but all we can do now is concentrate on the rest."