THE heartbroken mother of tragic Clarissa McCarthy (3) has returned to the US after failing to reach a settlement over the disputed will of her husband Martin, who drowned himself and their daughter.
Rebecca McCarthy (26) flew back to Los Angeles after a week in west Cork during which she made a last-ditch bid to reach a compromise over the will her husband changed just one week before he died.
Ms McCarthy's action against her late husband's estate over her effective exclusion from inheriting major property assets is now scheduled to be heard in the High Court next month.
The Herald has learnt that the settlement talks – which Ms McCarthy stayed in Ireland for a week to progress – ultimately failed after one party refused to compromise.
A friend of the devastated American woman said she is now so traumatised that she may never return to Ireland, having flown home on Friday.
"It has been a devastating week for her. She had been dreading the inquests for a year, but in her wildest nightmares she hadn't expected what happened," one friend said.
"Rebecca stayed on in Ireland for a week in the hope that a settlement over the will could be agreed. She is absolutely heartbroken that it looks now as if a High Court case cannot be avoided."
Ms McCarthy fled in tears two weeks ago from a Bantry coroner's inquest into the death last March 5 of her husband Martin (50) and her only child, Clarissa.
The bodies of the father and daughter were found 200 metres apart in shallow water off the west Cork coast near a secluded beach on Mr McCarthy's farm.
Ms McCarthy's family had clashed with friends of Mr McCarthy after they loudly objected to any suggestion in the inquest verdicts that the farmer restrained his daughter in the sea.
One friend of Mr McCarthy effectively suggested Clarissa's death was an accident.
Two other friends insisted that pathology evidence did not support any verdict that indicated he had restrained his child.
Ms McCarthy became so upset during the loud exchanges that she briefly fled the hearing.
Her family, visibly appalled by what was said, replied to Mr McCarthy's friends, saying that "he killed her" and "if he were still alive he would be charged with murder".
Mr McCarthy had left a suicide note in the milking parlour of his isolated farm at Audley Cove outside Ballydehob.
The note, in his handwriting, outlined his plans and included the phrase "gone to heaven".
It was left in an envelope marked "Rebecca".
Following the deaths, Ms McCarthy insisted that her husband and daughter be buried together in a single coffin.
Clarissa was buried cradled in her father's arms.
Ms McCarthy discovered six weeks after the double tragedy that her husband had changed his will.
Virtually no major assets were bequeathed by him to his young wife.
A first round of settlement talks between the various parties failed, and Ms McCarthy launched a High Court action to restore her legal entitlement to her share of the family home and farm. The legal action was signalled on July 2. Compromise talks failed in August and again in October.
Intensive negotiations took place last week but ended without agreement on Thursday.
Legal sources confirmed to the Herald that the matter will now be listed for a High Court hearing in April.
Mrs McCarthy is challenging her husband's altered will and is also taking action against his estate for trauma and distress caused by the loss of her daughter.