Thursday 14 December 2017

'The first thing Nadine saw when she came into the world was her daddy. He was also the last'

Kelly O’Brien (top) paid tribute to her husband and daughter at their funeral yesterday.
Kelly O’Brien (top) paid tribute to her husband and daughter at their funeral yesterday.
The bodies of Anthony O’Brien and Nadine (inset) were taken from Our Lady and St Brendan’s Church in Tralee in a single coffin.
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

SHE lost her husband and her daughter, and she cannot understand how, or accept why.

Kelly O'Brien wore some of her daughter Nadine's hair clips yesterday as she spoke to mourners at the double funeral.

She was in a wheelchair at Our Lady and St Brendan's Church in Tralee, Co Kerry, yesterday.

But she said the only reason she was there at all was because of the actions of her husband -- her hero, who had saved her life.

"Anthony, my hero, what are we going to do now? You did everything you could to save us and I'll never stop loving you," she said.

Anthony O'Brien (29) and his daughter Nadine (5) died in each other's arms following the fire at the family home in Oakpark last weekend. Mrs O'Brien was the sole survivor.

"When Nadine was born on April 26, 2007, the first person she saw was her Daddy, and unfortunately, he was also the last," she said.

Recalled

She recalled how the family had happily celebrated Nadine's birthday two weeks ago and how proud she had been to win the 'student of the week' award at her school the week before she died.

Mrs O'Brien said there had been three highlights in her husband's life: when their daughter was born, his wedding day and a trip he had taken to Old Trafford with her brother.

St Brendan's curate Fr Patsy Lynch said he had also officiated at Kelly and Anthony's wedding in 2008.

"We were horrified, shocked, stunned, numb and bewildered by the events of early last Saturday morning when flames engulfed the O'Brien home," Fr Lynch said.

"The death of a loved one in any circumstance is an occasion of great sorrow but the untimely tragic deaths of a young man, Anthony O'Brien, and Nadine, a beautiful young child who was full of life and full of love, full of fun with her beautiful trademark curls, is indeed harrowing and distressing."

Symbols of Anthony and Nadine's lives were brought to the altar, including the little girl's pink bike that her dad had taught her to cycle only two weeks before.

Fr Lynch said Anthony had insisted she learn to cycle without stabilisers because she wasn't a baby any more.

Other gifts included her school cardigan from Gaelscoil Mhic Easmainn, where she was in junior infants; some of her recent artwork; her favourite DVD of Darby O'Gill, which she enjoyed watching with her cousins; and a Dora doll, her favourite cartoon character.

The symbols of her father's life included his Manchester United shirt, a football and his gold jewellery. His wife recalled him saying "my bling is my thing".

Anthony's youngest sister, Sarah, spoke of the bond that existed between her older sister Tara, her brother Stephen and their older brother from when they grew up in care.

Their mother died tragically in London some years ago and their father passed away four months later.

She said if there was one word to describe what her brother meant to them it was "everything".

Waiting

"I remember one time when the four of us were waiting for our dad to visit and when we were told he wasn't coming, Anthony turned to us, shrugged his shoulders and said 'who cares, we don't need him. We have each other'," she said.

Fr Lynch said the Eminem song 'I'm not Afraid' was very dear to the young father.

"He proved he was not afraid on Saturday morning when he helped Kelly to escape and then gave his life trying to save Nadine," Fr Lynch said.

As the coffin left the church, strains of the song 'I'll Tell Me Ma' rang out in tribute to the little girl who had constantly sung it.

She was laid to rest as she had died, in her father's arms, in New Rath cemetery yesterday afternoon.

Irish Independent

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