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'The time of grieving, a tsunami of grief, is only just begun'

The remains of Thomas and Sylvia Connors and three of their children are now being taken to Wexford.
Oct 22nd 2015, 11:15 PM 40,576 49

Updated at 2pm

A LONE PIPER played traditional airs outside the church in the southside Dublin suburb of Balally this morning, as mourners gathered ahead of the second funeral service for the victims of the Carrickmines tragedy.

Thomas and Sylvia Connors, their children Jim (5), Christy (3) and baby Mary (5 months) were killed in the halting site blaze in the early hours of Saturday 10 October.

Their funeral service took place two days after the other five victims of the fire were laid to rest, following a service in Bray.


Four-year-old Tom Connors, who lost his parents and three siblings in the tragedy, was released from hospital only yesterday. He and his brother Michael (5) – who was unharmed - will now be cared for by their grandparents.

Crowds began gathering at the Church of the Ascension around an hour before the funeral mass commenced, making their way inside from around 11am.

Other mourners – along with members of the media – gathered outside, where proceedings were relayed via loudspeaker.

Bishop Ray Field represented Archbishop Diarmuid Martin at today’s requiem mass, which was celebrated by Derek Farrell of the Parish of the Travelling People.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was represented by his aide-de-camp Commandant Kieran Carey. President Michael D Higgins was also represented, and a number of local politicians attended – as did Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.

A group of six priests – including clergy who presided over the baptisms of the Connors children – concelebrated the mass.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Denis Kiely – one of the first emergency service members on the scene at the tragedy – represented Dublin Fire Brigade.

Delivering the homily, Fr Farrell said “an earthquake of devastating grief” had struck on the Glenamuck Road in Carrickmines on 10 October.

“From the epicentre of tragedy that visited the Connors home on the Glenamuck Road, shock waves spread out through the land.

“Shock waves, from the devastation of the deceased and injured, to the bereaved Connors, Lynch, and Gilbert families, to the local Travellers and neighbours, to the wider Traveller community, to the whole wider Irish nation, and on to many countries around the world.

“In an echo of the Gospel account of the death of Jesus on the Cross, ‘a darkness came over the whole land’.”

Fr Farrell said the Connors, Lynch and Gilbert families knew only too well the anguish of “waiting for your loved ones to be given back to you” adding:

“This time of waiting is over, the time of grieving, a tsunami of grief, is only just begun.”

Connors family

Thomas and Sylvia, as a couple, were seen as “a match made in Heaven” Fr Farrell said. They were “deeply loving and devoted to each other, they never left each other’s side”.

“Married nearly eight years, they first met in Bray.

“After their wedding, they moved in immediately with the extended family in Burton Hall, then for a short while in Rathmichael, before the move over seven years ago to their Glenamuck home.

“They were, it’s said, ‘the best father and mother that any children could ask for’.

“Thomas loved his family, his family was his life.”

Sylvia, he said, “in the words of her mother-in-law Jojo, was ‘the best girl you could ask for’”.

“You wouldn’t see a better person, and the same could be said for Thomas.

“Before marrying Thomas, Sylvia took very good care of her now late ailing mother, Mary.  Anywhere you’d see her mother you’d see Sylvia.  She loved being a mother herself, and was a very good mother.  Her husband and her children were her life.

“Jim [5 years], loved to stay with his grandparents Jim and Jojo.  He was a lovely boy, a very happy boy.

“Christy [3 years] was full of life, by times quiet, a big boy for his age, Daddy and Mammy’s little boy, and up until Baby Mary’s arrival, ‘the babbie’. Jim and Christy were very close brothers, very close to their aunts and uncles, and very clever for their age, and both were waiting on the birth of their baby sister.

“Baby Mary was aged just 5 months.  When Baby Mary came she was much treasured by the whole family.”


Echoing the words of parish priest Fr Dermot Lane at last night’s removal service, Fr Farrell took the opportunity to speak of the wider issues raised for Irish society in the days since the tragedy.

“We must learn, above all, to walk in the shoes of the other if we are to develop genuinely inclusive and pluralistic societies,” Fr Lane said last evening.

“Many of us in the settled community have failed to walk with empathy in the shoes of our brothers and sisters in the Traveller Community.”

Speaking today, Fr Farrell added:

“We in the Parish of the Travelling People, and I know the same for the various National and local Traveller organisations and groups, are open for dialogue and progress.

“A generous and committed response is needed from all quarters and at all levels – personal, community, Church, and State.  The building of mutual relationship, respect and understanding, recognition and valuing of identity is possible and with goodwill and determination, within our grasp.

“Perhaps for now we can draw consolation and hope from the good we have witnessed and must build on, and from the Resurrection of Jesus that tells us that love is stronger than death, love calls us to eternal life.”

Fr Farrell’s homily was met with applause from the mourners gathered inside the church.

22/10/2015 Hundreds of people attend the funeral o The remains of the three Connors children are taken from the church. Source: Sam Boal

Message from Pope Francis

A message from the Pope was also read to the congregation by Bishop Field. He repeated the words expressed at Tuesday’s funeral in Bray for the five other victims of the tragedy.

“Pope Francis, having learned of the horrific fire in Carrickmines, expresses his deep sadness over this terrible tragedy,” he said.

“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.” 

22/10/2015 Hundreds of people attend the funeral o Source: Sam Boal


The remains of Thomas and Sylvia Connors and their three children will be taken to Wexford this afternoon, with prayers to take place at the Church of the Assumption on Bride Street in Wexford tomorrow at midday followed by burial at Crosstown Cemetery.

Read: Four-year-old released from hospital, as family’s removal service takes place>

Read: Major traffic restrictions in Bray for first of Carrickmines funerals>

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Daragh Brophy


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