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'We’ll be forever heartbroken’: Andrew McGinley pays tribute to his ‘creative, funny, unique children’

A Mass for the Angels was held in Rathcoole this morning.

Image: Niall Carson/PA

Updated Jan 31st 2020, 12:28 PM

“IT WAS NOT their time. They had all their days before them, the adventure of life, and of love.”

At the Church of the Holy Family in Rathcoole this morning, Fr Kevin Doherty said he was not going to pretend there is no darkness around the deaths of nine-year-old Conor, seven-year-old Darragh and three-year-old Carla at their home in Newcastle last week.

“It is like a pall of darkness, a shroud of darkness, has come down upon us, and no one is left untouched,” he told the congregation at the Mass of the Angels for the three McGinley children.

That darkness has come into the communities of Newcastle and Rathcoole, into the homes of every family, and into the local schools, where the children are “confused and fragile”, questioning why this has happened to their friends.

“Our wonderful teachers are speaking, out of their own sadness, gentle love to these children.”

The grief in the community though is “nothing compared” to what has come to the children’s father Andrew, Fr Doherty said.

We cannot say to you we have words – you know we have none. There is only this: from the deepest place of our hearts, Andrew, and from the deepest love that we know, we say to you we are sorry. We are sorry. 

At the start of his eulogy, Andrew asked family and friends to bear with him, as he would struggle to get through it.

“Apologies in advance for the tears and pauses that I will have to take to catch my breath.”

He said he had been filled with rage when he first learned of his children’s deaths. But today he wanted to focus on all of the small pieces of their lives that made them the “creative, funny and unique” children they were.

Conor and Darragh adored Lego. With their dad, they made weird and wonderful spaceships, totally impractical multipurpose vehicles and lots of baddies’ lairs.

They were big fans of Marvel and they worshipped actors Robert Downey Junior and Chris Hemsworth (Ironman and Thor). But Mark Ruffalo, the “big friendly Hulk”, was three-year-old Carla’s favourite.

Frozen was a big hit with the McGinley children too, and Andrew thanked princesses Anna and Elsa, and snowman Olaf, “from our princess Carla”.

“Carla my love, I had really hoped that we would be finally building that snowman this year. I’m so sorry.”

Because of their love for the films they watched, Conor had taken up drama class and Darragh had also joined recently.

Together they enjoyed the books of Stan Lee, David Walliams and Dav Pilkey, books that fueled their imaginations and moulded their sense of humour.

“Thank you to Julia Donaldson for your books about a Gruffalo and about a Snail on a Whale and all the others,” Andrew said.

We have many, many well-thumbed copies of your books but what you need to understand is the time that your work gave us to snuggle our kids and to hold them close as we followed that snail on it’s wonderful trail on the tail of whale.

As a family they listened to the music of the Foo Fighters. They all had their own preferences, but everyone loved Everlong, a song Andrew said will help to get him through the dark days ahead.

Source: Niall Carson

He thanked everyone who has supported him over the last week, including his neighbour and the fire crew who entered the house with him after his children’s bodies were found.

“They knew when to step in and they knew when to pull back. They understood my grief and I thank them for managing that. Also one of the team, I think he may have been the lead, provided me with much clarity in the middle of the insanity. You know who you are and I want to thank you.”

Now, it is the promises he made to his children that he said will drive him on.

“Conor announced at Christmas that he wanted to set up a You Tube channel. Containing what he never quite committed to but I promised to help him and I will do that for him.

“I promised Darragh that I would coach at Rathcoole Boys so apologies to the club, you may never get me out of there from now on.

“And I promised Carla a snowman, the place will be filled with snowmen every time it snows.

I will finish with this. We often misuse words. When Ireland would lose a match, I used to say I was heartbroken. I now know what that really means. We, as a family, are heartbroken. It will only be with your help, support and friendship that we will be able to patch our hearts together in some way, but we will still be forever heartbroken.

“Conor, Darragh and Carla. I love you, I love you, I love you.”

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