Single coffin for mum and her angels
CLUTCHING a teddy bear and a toy dinosaur, a baby girl and her infant brother were tenderly placed in their slain mother's arms in a single coffin for an emotional removal service yesterday after all three were murdered last week.
On a bitterly cold night, mourners from across west Limerick queued outside Roche's funeral home in Tournafulla to pay their respects to the family of Sarah Hines (25), her daughter Amy (five months) and son, Reece (3).
The mother and children were fatally stabbed on Monday of last week.
Many who made their way to the service last night are expected to return today to St Patrick's Church in the Limerick village to bid a final farewell to the young mother and her son and daughter.
Several hundred people sympathised with Sarah's mother, Abina and the extended family, with the first mourners arriving at 3pm.
One of the first to commiserate with the devastated family was retired detective Con Browne. Mr Browne raised the alarm last week and contacted gardai in Newcastle West after he became aware of the four deaths.
Sarah's friend Alicia Brough (20) was also killed in the horror of November 15.
All three victims were dressed in Indian white cotton and placed in a closed oak coffin with a copper breastplate attached bearing their names.
Step-father of Sarah, Peter Rolfe said the devoted mother was "holding her babies in each arm" in the coffin.
"That is what we wanted here, because then they (Reece and Amy) will know where they are going," Mr Rolfe said. "It is beautiful," he added sadly.
Amy's favourite teddy bear and Reece's toy dinosaur were put under their hands.
A Spider-Man toy which was given to Reece was also placed in the casket, along with holy water.
Mr Rolfe said the grieving family had received an "unbelievable amount" of support from the communities of Tournafulla, Newcastle West, Feohanagh and Dromcollogher.
After moving from Essex over 10 years ago, the Hines family lived in Tournafulla before moving onto Feohanagh. Sarah and her children also spent time living in Dromcollogher before moving into a semi-detached house in Newcastle West in September.
"People have been calling to the house to us and there was a lovely prayer service in Newcastle West last week," Mr Rolfe said.
These have been testing times for Peter and Abina. On Monday, they attended the funeral of the fourth victim, Alicia Brough in Rockchapel, Co Cork.
Mr Rolfe added that nearly all of Sarah's family had arrived for the service, with the last relatives expected at Shannon Airport last night.
Fr Willie O'Gorman asked that all continue to remember the Hines family in their prayers. "Sarah, Reece and Amy were taken so suddenly and in such tragic circumstances.
"It is hard to imagine the pain the family is going through at this immensely difficult time," Fr O'Gorman said.
"I would like to thank all who have offered their prayerful support and I would ask that you continue to remember them in your prayers," he added.
A private cremation for Sarah, Reece and Amy will take place at a later date after today's funeral.