Massive turnout for triple funeral
THE horrific inferno which claimed the lives of an elderly couple and their daughter near Manorhamilton was the second fire tragedy to hit the family, mourners at their funerals heard.
At the Mass for Dessie McDonald (75), his wife Celia (77), also known as Patsy, and their 34-year-old daughter, Patricia, who died in the blaze at their home in Lisnabrack, prayers were also said for Mrs McDonald's nephew Patrick Joyce, a 39-year-old fireman in Yonkers, New York, who lost his life when he ran into a blazing building in the belief that two women were still inside.
Patrick's twin brother Peter and their older brother Marty, also firemen, were among the large number of mourners at the triple funerals on Tuesday.
Members of the fire crews which battled the blaze were also present.
Sisters Jennifer-who works as a nurse in Galway and lives with her partner, Declan, and daughter, Keelin, in Partry, Mayo-and Joanne, led a procession of 400 people as their father was laid to rest in the cemetery behind the church in Mullies.
Later, the coffins of their mother and sister were taken by hearse to Dublin for cremation at Mount Jerome.
As a shocked community united in sorrow, Parish Priest, Fr. John McMahon, said Mullies and the entire parish of Manorhamilton were grief-stricken since the blaze that claimed the three lives.
He told mourners: "The heartache of Jennifer and Joanne and other relatives must be unbearable."
Their world had been "turned upside down" by a terrible tragedy.
Fr. McMahon conveyed deep sympathy to Jennifer and Joanne.
He said Dessie McDonald had lived life his own way after returning to his native area 15 years ago after retiring as a New York bus driver.
It was from Mullies that Mr. McDonald had left for the US in the early 1960's.
He had bought and renovated the house in Lisnabrack where he and his wife, a native of Ballaghadereeen County Roscommon, had hoped to live out their retirement.
Fr. McMahon said: "He was always concerned for others.
"He was a great man for people, giving them lifts and always visiting."
Fr. McMahon described Dessie McDonald as having a good humour and was someone who would "lift a person's heart."
He said: "He would never see anyone stuck or stranded."
Fr. McMahon recalled that Mrs. McDonald, who spent most of her life in the Bronx and who returned to join her husband in Lisnabrack earlier this year, was devoted to her family.
He said: "She spent her life working at two jobs in order to give her children every opportunity."
Fr. McMahon commented that Jennifer had described her mother as non-judgemental and "took people as they were."
Patricia had come back to Ireland with the dream of broadcasting.
She wanted to make documentaries and tell stories about her life.
Fr. McMahon said: "All this was cut short."
The Parish Priest of Partry, Fr. John Kenny, also extended his sympathies to the family.
He said: "Jennifer deals with tragedy in her work, but not in this way, on her doorstep."