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A final farewell: As the bells tolled, five coffins were taken from the hearses

With five coffins sitting before the altar, sadness could be seen etched on the faces of everyone in the church that day.

Image: Brian Lawless/PA Wire/Press Association Images

A YOUNG BOY, carrying a teddy bear and a framed photo of four-year-old Kelsey, walked ahead of her small, white coffin as it was taken from a hearse in Springfield Cemetery in Bray yesterday.

Kelsey’s father, Willie Lynch, 25, her mother, Tara Gilbert, 27, her older sister Jodie, 9, and her uncle Jimmy Lynch, 39, had all gone before her.

Just one of the emotional scenes from the first of the Carrickmines funerals now etched in the minds of everyone who attended yesterday.

Earlier that day, hundreds lined the streets of Bray Main Street waiting for the arrival of a family that had been wiped out in one night.

As the bells tolled at the Holy Redeemer Church, five hearses and 10 limousines drove through the silent streets. From those hearses emerged three large silver caskets and two smaller white coffins, and on the shoulders of relatives – both men and women – those coffins were brought inside.

20/10/2015 Hundreds of people have gathered at the Source: Sam Boal

The church, packed to the rafters with members of the Traveller and settled communities, as well as politicians and representatives of the President and Taoiseach, had an atmosphere that was charged with disbelief and a sense of unimaginable loss.

“Three families, Lynch, Gilbert, and Connors, the entire Traveller community, and Ireland as a nation suffered a loss which is beyond words. There are no words… No words to take away the pain. No words to restore what has been lost,” said lead celebrant Father Derek Farrell.

These words echoed through the cries of babies in the church, a poignant reminder of the young lives lost in this tragedy.

One of the many young children in the church stood at the Book of Condolences, reading the kind words that mourners had written for the families.

Looking up to her mother, she asked what she should write. “That you are sad about what has happened.”

With five coffins sitting before the altar, that emotion and pain could be seen on the faces of everyone in the church that day.

20/10/2015. Traveller Funeral. Pictured Teachers o

Despite the crowds present, Communion was carried out seamlessly, with the song The Prayer, performed in the style of Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli, performed in the background. It brought a tear to the eye of even the strongest of mourners.

Words from family members, such as Stuart Gilbert, painted the picture of a happy family and made their personalities come to life.

Tara was described as a fantastic mother, whose children meant the world to her. Willie, a doting father, who would bring his girls everywhere. Jodie and Kelsey, two young girls, coming into their own, with their whole lives ahead of them. And Jimmy, the treasure of his family, who loved Elvis.

As the two-hour funeral came to a close, the caskets were carried once more down the aisle, as Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You played.

Little can anyone prepare for finding themselves standing next to two tiny children’s coffins. The grief felt by all at that moment was palpable.

Journey to the cemetery

From there, the cortège made its way along a separate route to Springfield Cemetery, about two kilometres away. Mourners slowly made there way up Bray Main Street to the final resting place of the young family.

“It doesn’t bear thinking about,” said one woman in the cemetery. Gripping her rosary beads, she said what had happened was everyone’s worst nightmare.

As young children played around the graves, one by one the coffins were carried over.

Relatives held each other as a decade of the rosary was said. Each decade was dedicated to something – the family, the relatives, and one to all the young children present there, that nothing of this sort should happen to them.

As the funeral song was played by bagpipes, a teddy bear made of flowers was placed on the grave, as was a flower-framed large poster of characters from the the cartoon Frozen.

A mourner placed a statue of Mary on the grave.

One resting place for one family: the kind of ending we hope we should never see again.

Read: ‘Ireland as a nation suffered a loss which is beyond words. There are no words’>

Read: More: Carrickmines tragedy shows we all have empathy, but it gives way when it comes close to our backyard>

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