Sunday 18 February 2018

Numbed mourners pay their last respects to tragic teenagers

Barry Duggan in Killarney

IT was a bright and sunny day across most of Kerry yesterday, but a dark cloud of grief and despair hung over the region as three teenage victims of last week's horrific road crash were laid to rest.

The last few days have seen trying times in the communities of Castleisland, Fossa, Farranfore and Killarney following last Wednesday's four deaths after a single-vehicle crash on the N72 Killarney-Mallow road. Friends and family of the deceased teenagers spent Friday and yesterday travelling to the removals and funerals across the county.

More than 400 people gathered at St Mary's Cathedral in Killarney yesterday to bid a sad final farewell to Breen brothers David, 17, and Kevin, 15. Just a short distance outside the town at the same time, more numbed mourners gathered in Fossa to pay their respects to the family of Brian Coffey, 19.

David Breen's girlfriend, Aine Riordan, 15, was buried on Friday after her funeral at Castleisland.

The sole survivor to emerge from the Hyundai Accent, Darragh Jones, 16, from Farranfore, is recovering in Tralee General Hospital.

In the midst of their darkest days, heartfelt messages from across the country have been sent to the grieving families. Those still attempting to recover from the eight road deaths in the Inishowen peninsula in Co Donegal last month offered their condolences. All three funeral masses heard that President Mary McAleese passed on her sympathy and support.

With the two young Breen brothers laid out just in front of him, Fr Gerard O'Leary said that when news spread last Wednesday morning that there had been a serious traffic accident, "it sent shivers through us".

He said as news of the crash spread and the identities of the victims became known, darkness descended across the area. "Young lives were lost and we were left fumbling in the darkness for answers and none could be found."

The two brothers leave behind their parents, Denis and Sheila; brothers, Michael, 21, Denis, 19, and Billy, 3; and sister, Sheila-Mary, 11.

Speaking to the family, Fr O'Leary said their world had stood still as, instead of David and Kevin's laughter, craic and joy, there was a still silence.

However, he added that they would both be remembered for "their sense of joy and fun" and for the special attention their youngest brother Billy received when they brought him on the crossbar of a bike to the shop for sweets and treats.

At the Church of Christ, the Prince of Peace in Fossa, Fr Brendan Harrington said that "great sadness" had fallen on the parish since Brian Coffey's death.

Fr Harrington said he had spoken to the deceased man's parents, Siobhan Coffey and Mick Clifford, about their son. "They told me that he was charming, that he was full of the joys of life, that he was mad about his young brother and sister, Simon and Beth, and that there were times when they could have killed him, but that they all loved him," he said.

He said: "Brian's parents and family, who loved him dearly, have been plunged into grief. Our presence and our prayers today are our way of saying that we share your grief."

Brian was laid to rest in Aghadoe Cemetery after the emotional service.

Sunday Independent

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