A priest spoke to two grieving parents during a Co Louth funeral service yesterday, and told them that they must not blame themselves for the death of their three sons in a devastating house fire.
Brothers Martin (21), Tony (16) and eight-year-old James McDonagh were laid to rest one week after the blaze in Drogheda which claimed their young lives.
Bishop Gerard Clifford said no parent expected to see a son or daughter die. Addressing Anthony and Kathleen McDonagh, he added: “But to lose three sons in this way is a tragedy beyond understanding.”
The McDonaghs sobbed and held each other during the hour long service, as they were told there could be no blame for what happened.
Behind them sat their remaining children Catriona, Caroline, Lisa, Brigid, Geraldine, Annie, John and Eddie, still wrapped in hospital bandages.
The 13-year-old had escaped the dreadful blaze when he jumped from an upstairs window, his clothes still alight.
Parish priest Fr John McAlinden said: “What happened last Monday morning was beyond your human control and there was nothing you could do to stop it.”
The priest said Martin, Tony, who died on his 16th birthday, and James, had been a short part of the McDonagh family’s journey in life.
The tragedy has touched the town of Drogheda profoundly, and over 1,500 people attended yesterday’s requiem mass at Our Lady of Lourdes church.
Five young cousins of the McDonagh family read poems for their three relatives, with some describing the scene on the night the fire broke out.
Sobbing echoed around the church as the cousins recalled the courage and fortitude of the three McDonagh brothers as they tried to escape the fire.
After the hearse paused one last time, outside the now boarded-up family home in Moneymore, burial took place in nearby St Peter’s cemetery.