Sunday 18 March 2018

Two families united in grief at funeral of troubled father

David Forsythe

TWO families devastated by tragedy stood together united in grief as they said goodbye to the troubled father who took his own life after smothering his two little daughters.

Hundreds attended the funeral Mass at St Coleman's Cathedral in Cobh, Co Cork, where John Butler (43) originally hailed from.

Mr Butler's six siblings, Chris, Pat, Paul, Katherine, Brid and Marie, all attended the Mass, as did his mother Kitty.

John's widow Una and members of her family from the couple's home village of Ballycotton in East Cork also attended.

In his homily, Fr John McCarthy said that the congregation was full of mixed feelings and had been deeply affected by the grief the Butler family is going through.

"Last Tuesday will be a day forever etched into our memory. It has replayed in our minds and will continue to do so many times, how the news was broken to us and how we tried to absorb the enormity of what took place," he said.


Fr McCarthy said the community was left in a state of disbelief once the details of the horrific tragedy began to emerge.

Speaking to John's widow Una and his immediate family, Fr McCarthy said: "So many of us here are lost for words. We know that there are no words that can describe your unimaginable sorrow and pain."

John's sister Katherine Norton spoke briefly to the congregation on behalf of the Butler family, expressing her gratitude to Una's relatives.

"I would like to thank the O'Riordan family for the support and unity they have shown us always, especially in this last week," she said.

She also said the family deeply appreciated the huge numbers of people who had sent their condolences, and thanked the emergency services and the gardai, who had gone "beyond the call of duty to ease our pain in these last few days".

"We love you John, you and your beautiful little angels will be forever in our hearts," she said.

In a further show of unity, readings were also made by John's sister Marie and Una's sister Brid.

Cobh GAA Club provided a guard of honour as John's coffin, draped in a Cobh GAA flag, was taken from the cathedral for cremation.

The funerals of John's two daughters, Zoe and Ella, took place in Ballycotton on Friday.

The girls were killed by their father, who later doused himself in petrol and crashed his car at speed into a ditch.

Mr Butler had previously worked for Irish Steel and more recently had worked in the construction industry, but was laid off a year ago. He had been treated for depression over the past year.

Irish Independent

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