Parents' torrent of grief for three lost sons
FOR these inconsolable parents, it has been one nightmare after another.
This weekend, Paud and Nora O'Connor will leave their isolated home at Seconglass, Mountcollins, Co Limerick and visit the graves of all their children at their local church.
Over the course of the last 27 years, the loving father (52) and mother (51) have had to stand by the graves of their three sons as their coffins were lowered into the ground.
The baby of the family, Donal, who was just three months old, was a victim of cot death on July 6, 1983. However, Nora and Paud were left with the comfort of Donal's older brothers; Noel and Liam.
Come August 2001 and death visited the O'Connors again when Noel (20) died in a road accident. And still the pain continues.
Last week, tragedy struck a third time and claimed the life of Liam (31) who was killed in a work accident at a pig farm in Fahaduff, Co Kerry.
Nora bravely admits that she doesn't know if she has the strength to cope anymore. "We have seen out three beautiful sons die one by one," she said.
"I don't know if I can cope with this death of our last son. We talk of Noel and he is dead nine years and now we have to talk about Liam in the same sense -- gone.
"I don't know yet how it's going to affect us. I don't really know how strong we are, only time will tell that," she said.
"You get up each morning and the first thing to hit you is another day without Liam now."
Liam, the proud father of Matthew (4) and 14-month-old Katelyn, died when he became trapped between a skip and the hydraulic hoist while working.
"I found out at twenty to eleven on Tuesday morning (February 16) when members of the Ward family who he worked for along with Fr Willie O'Gorman and a garda from Abbeyfeale came to the house.
"I could not believe it would ever happen again," she said.
The heartbroken mother turned to prayer after the death of Donal and asked questions after Noel died.
Now she and her husband are left having to make the journey to the graveside to visit their children.