Wednesday 16 October 2019

They died amid tragedy but lived in love for one another

Funeral from Bride Street Church to Ferrybank
Funeral from Bride Street Church to Ferrybank
Funeral from Bride Street Church to Ferrybank
Funeral from Bride Street Church to Ferrybank

By David Tucker

Prayers during Friday's service at Bride Street Church were led by Fr Aodhan Marken, who extended the sympathies of Bishop Denis Brennan and the Diocese of Ferns to the devastated Connors' family and all members of the Travelling community.

'On behalf of the parish community here in Wexford and beyond I would like to offer our sympathies to all the family this afternoon, all those who suffer in grief and in pain, those who stand here in the midst of such a terrible reality, those who see and still can't believe that such an atrocity and such devastation has visited your family, friends and community.

'I extend my sympathies on behalf of our Bishop Denis Brennan and the people of the diocese of Ferns to Thomas, Sylvia, Jim, Christy and baby Mary's family and all the members of the Travelling Community and we continue to pray for you and ask God to be close to you these days.

'When someone dies who has reached a great age, we say that they have taken a great portion of history with them, but when young people die they take away the future, their dreams, their vision and their potential; that's what makes this pain, this reality so devastating today, so unbelievable and heartbreaking.

'The Travelling community and indeed many in our country are still gifted with the grace of faith, and today that is what we need so much, the gift of faith. That faith which has been tested to the limit these past dark days and yet we turn to God and ask him to embrace this family of Thomas, Sylvia, Jim, Christy and Baby Mary and give them a home where they will be together forever and where one day we too shall see them face to face and enjoy their friendship.

'This family lived united in love - surrounded by care and kindness - may this be the story that their sons are told and may this be the legacy that continues as we remember and pray for them. Yes they died amid tragedy and devastation but they lived in love for one another and especially for their family.'

Bishop Brennan, who read the prayers at the commendation, reiterated a message from Pope Francis to the families affected by the Carrickmines fire, and indeed to the whole Traveller Community.

'Pope Francis, having learned of the horrific fire in Carrickmines, expresses his deep sadness over this terrible tragedy. The Holy Father prays especially for those who have died and he wishes to assure all their family members; their friends, and the whole Traveller community, of his spiritual closeness and sympathy at this very difficult time.'

'The fire in Carrickmines has been a cruel blow to the Travelling Community and I would like to add my own sympathy to that of the Holy Father,' the bishop said in his homily.

'Having worked with the Travelling People over the years I have come to know, and admire, your lively sense of the sacred, and your strong family bonds.. I pray that these two traits, which are a hallmark of your community, will help you through this time of tears,' said the Bishop.

On Thursday, Fr Derek Farrell of the Parish of the Travelling People, said the tragic deaths at Carrickmines must be a 'watershed' moment in relations between the Traveller and settled communities.

'We need together to make the deaths and the loss involved in this tragedy matter, not just to this family but to all in our society, Traveller and settled,' said Fr Farrell, the chief celebrant at the funeral of Thomas and Sylvia Connors and their children at the Church of the Ascension in Balally.

'Though the young family had lived at the temporary site in Carrickmines, and worshipped at the Church of the Ascension, their home place was Wexford. It is an important tradition within the Traveller community that they be buried in their home place.'

Earlier, speaking following the funerals in Bray of the first five of the fire victims - 25-year-old Willy Lynch; his partner Tara who was 27 and pregnant at the time of her death, their two children Kelsey, aged 4, and Jodie, aged 9, and Willy's brother Jimmy aged 39, Fr Farrell said he hoped the outpouring of support from across the country can lead to new understanding between the settled community and travellers,

'Settled and Traveller united in various forms of solidarity and prayer in the past week. A unity perhaps no more poignantly and particularly embodied than in the loving relationship of Tara, a young settled woman, and Willy, a young Traveller man, and the family the together established so beautifully.' Fr Farrell said the fire will be remembered as a 'horrific and tragic day'

Wexford People

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