Priest tells community a "a shroud of darkness, has come down upon us, and no one is left untouched"
“Conor, Darragh, Carla. I love you, I love you, I love you.”
It was with these words, through tears, that the father of the three McGinley children found dead at their Dublin home last Friday ended an emotional eulogy to them at their funerals today.
The two brothers and their little sister were remembered as creative, funny and unique children whose loss is truly heartbreaking for the family and everyone who knew them.
Conor (9), Darragh (7) and Carla (3) McGinley were found in their home in Parsons Court in Newcastle Co Dublin last Friday evening by their father Andrew after he came home from work.
The Church of The Holy Family in Rathcoole was full to capacity as Andrew and the McGinley and Morley families brought the children’s white coffins to the altar where Andrew spoke with love and gratitude for them.
In an emotional eulogy he painted the picture of the children’s simple and warm innocence, of their play time, their imaginations, their joys and their dreams.
"We often misuse words. When Ireland would lose a match I used to say that I was heartbroken.
"I now know what that really means. We as a family are heartbroken. It will only be with your help, support and friendship that we will be able to patch our hearts together in some way, but we will still be forever heartbroken," he said.
Andrew generously had a lot of people to thank for their contributions to his children's lives, including film stars and writers, singers and musicians, and the inventors of Lego.
Speaking about Marvel super-heroes, he thanked them for Ironman, Thor, Captain America, and Hulk.
"Thank you Robert Downey Jnr and thank you Chris Hemsworth for bringing Ironman and Thor to life. My kids absolutely worshipped you both," he said.
"To Mark Ruffalo, Carla loved big friendly Hulk in Avengers Endgame," he added, giving special mention to princesses Ana and Elsa, and snowman Olaf in the movie Frozen.
Andrew also thanked Happy Feet crèche, Scoil Chrónáin and Rathcoole Boys Football club.
The emergency services, Gardai, and authorities were mentioned too.
"I would like to mention (pathologist) Margaret Bolster, as when you said that you would treat Conor, Darragh and Carla as if they were your own children, I found great peace in that, so thank you," he told the mourners.
Neighbours Gavin and Audrey got a special mention from Andrew.
"Gavin you were beside me when I opened the door and entered the house and I'm sorry for that, but I was so thankful you were there beside me," he said.
Andrew also said he would keep promises to his children. For Conor he will set up a YouTube channel that the nine year old had spoken about at Christmas.
For Darragh he said he will coach the Rathcoole boys football team.
"And I promised Carla a snowman. The place will be filled with snowmen every time it snows," he said.
In his homily, Fr Kevin Doherty, co parish priest, explained how his own mother died about eight weeks ago. And with it there was a sense of sadness, but also a sense of peace, even of gratitude.
"Because she had lived her life, she had lived it well and fully and, as we sometimes say, ‘perhaps it was her time’. But, with all our hearts, and from the deepest place of our soul, we know that this was not the time for our dear children, for Conor, and Darragh and Carla.
"It was not their time. They had all their days before them, the adventure of life, and of love," he told the mourners.
"And their very going from us has left a chasm of absence in our lives. It is like a pall of darkness, a shroud of darkness, has come down upon us, and no one is left untouched," he added.
"This darkness has come into our communities, in Newcastle and in Rathcoole. It has come to our schools, where children are confused and fragile and questioning, and our wonderful teachers are speaking, out of their own sadness, gentle love to these children. We think in a special way of all those in Scoil Chrónáin. This darkness has come to our homes, to our families, to parents. And it has come to each one of us, personally," he explained.
"And so, the absence of these three beautiful children cries out to us. It cries out into the sheer darkness of bewilderment and loss that surrounds us.
"And, as it cries out, it brings with it, into our lives, the deepest of pain, and heart-wrenching grief," said Fr Doherty.
Then, addressing grieving Andrew directly, he said: "And yet, all this is as nothing compared to what has come to you Andrew.
"We cannot say to you we have words - you know we have none. There is only this: from the deepest place of our hearts, Andrew, and from the deepest love that we know, we say to you we are sorry … we are sorry.
"And please, as a family, all of you who hold Conor and Darragh and Carla intimate in your heart, please know that we say to you too that we are sorry and pray peace for you," he added.
Fr Doherty said that out of the darkness light can come.
"Life and love are always more than darkness and death. In holy words we say, the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness could not overpower it. Is there any way that ‘light’ could possibly be part of our journey today? Is there any way at all that we can say, “There is a glimpse of light”? I think we can dare to say ‘Yes’," he said.
"This light is surely found in the community of Parsons Court and the community in Newcastle.
"The outpouring of goodness and kindness and love among us is extraordinary. The coming together to cry, to hug, to laugh, to remember, to help is a light in the darkness," he added.
Fr Doherty spoke of how the community had come together at a vigil last Tuesday night, where he met local schoolchildren who had known Conor, Darragh and Carla.
"They told me about the boys’ love for football, and Minecraft and Lego. And what about Carla? ‘Oh, she loved Teddies’. And when I asked them, 'Are you not cold?', they said ‘Oh yes, but it’s worth it’," he remembered.
Fr Doherty said that at the Happy Feet crèche where Carla went tears were shared openly, but laughter also, not least when Andrew said, "There mustn’t be a box of Kleenex left in Rathcoole."
He thanked all the staff for their courage, and said he met one parent who said her son had announced that Carla was his first girlfriend.
Fr Doherty also spoke of seeing a family photograph during the week taken at Carla’s baptism.
In it Conor has a little towel and he’s reaching out just gently dabbing Carla’s head of any water.
"We are not pretending there is no darkness. There is the most horrific of all darkness.
"But we are saying is that the darkness does not have the victory. Life and love eternal is given to us. The lives of these beautiful children are too precious not to share in this life and this love," he said.
"This is the love that does not come to an end. It finds its way home to heaven," he added.
As a communion reflection an acoustic version of the song Everlong, by the Foo Fighters, was played.
The three white coffins were carried from the church while the teachers of Scoil Chrónáin sang Tears In Heaven by Eric Clapton and brought to Newcastle cemetery for private burial.
The children’s mother, Andrew’s wife, Deirdre Morley was arrested on Tuesday evening and detained at Clondalkin garda station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984. On Wednesday she was charged with their murders.
She was remanded in custody and is being held at the Dóchas Centre, the women's unit in Mountjoy Prison.