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Carrickmines fire: Pope Francis expresses 'deep sadness' over tragedy

Published 20/10/2015

Pope Francis expressed 'deep sadness' over the Carrickmines fire tragedy
Pope Francis expressed 'deep sadness' over the Carrickmines fire tragedy

Pope Francis has expressed his "deep sadness" at the horrific fire in Carrickmines that claimed the lives of nine people.

A message from the Pope is to be read at funeral masses for the Gilbert, Lynch and Connors families.

"Pope Francis, having learned of the horrific fire in Carrickmines, expresses his deep sadness over this terrible tragedy," the message reads.

"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."

Poignant scenes of heartbreaking grief greeted mourners as five coffins were brought before the altar for the first funerals for the victims of the devastating blaze last week in Carrickmines.

Nearer my God to Thee was played by a string quartet as the remains of Tara Gilbert (27) her partner Willie Lynch (25) and his brother Jimmy Lynch (39)  were brought before the altar first at the Church of the holy Redeemer in Bray, Co Wicklow, followed by the two deeply moving white coffins of Tara and Willie's children Kelsey (4) and Jodie (9).

Tara's unborn child was also remembered during the requiem mass.

A smiling picture of each tragic victim was laid on the altar alongside every coffin.

Irish president Michael D Higgins was represented by his ADC, Col Michael Kiernan and Taoiseach Enda Kenny by his ADC Commandant David Foley.

Tanaiste Joan Burton was present, along with minister James Reilly, Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein and Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Emily Logan.

Mourners at the funeral of the Connors family, Thomas, 27, and his wife Sylvia, 25, with three of their children, Jim, five, Christy, at the Church of the Ascension of the Lord in Balally, Co Dublin, who died in the fire at Carrickmines, south Dublin. PA
Mourners at the funeral of the Connors family, Thomas, 27, and his wife Sylvia, 25, with three of their children, Jim, five, Christy, at the Church of the Ascension of the Lord in Balally, Co Dublin, who died in the fire at Carrickmines, south Dublin. PA
The coffins of the Connors family, Thomas, 27, and his wife Sylvia, 25, with three of their children, Jim, five, Christy, leave the Church of the Ascension of the Lord in Balally, Co Dublin, who died in the fire at Carrickmines, south Dublin, following their funeral. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 22, 2015. Photo credit should read: Philip Fitzpatrick/PA Wire
Sinn Fein Gerry Adams at the funeral of the Connors family, Thomas, 27, and his wife Sylvia, 25, with three of their children, Jim, five, Christy, at the Church of the Ascension of the Lord in Balally, Co Dublin, who died in the fire at Carrickmines, south Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 22, 2015. Photo credit should read: Philip Fitzpatrick/PA Wire
The funeral cortege carrying the coffins of the Connors family, Thomas, 27, and his wife Sylvia, 25, with three of their children, Jim, five, Christy, two and five month old baby Mary, arrive at the Church of the Ascension of the Lord in Balally, Co Dublin, who died in the fire at Carrickmines, south Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 22, 2015. Photo credit should read: Philip Fitzpatrick/PA Wire
The coffins of the Connors family, Thomas, 27, and his wife Sylvia, 25, with three of their children, Jim, five, Christy, leave the Church of the Ascension of the Lord in Balally, Co Dublin, who died in the fire at Carrickmines, south Dublin, following their funeral. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 22, 2015. Photo credit should read: Philip Fitzpatrick/PA Wire
Jojo Connors, mother of Thomas Connors is helped after the funeral of the Connors family, Thomas, 27, and his wife Sylvia, 25, with three of their children, Jim, five, Christy, at the Church of the Ascension of the Lord in Balally, Co Dublin, who died in the fire at Carrickmines, south Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 22, 2015. Photo credit should read: Philip Fitzpatrick/PA Wire
Teachers from the school of Jodie White, aged 9 line the street in mourning at the funeral of a young family killed in a fire being held at the Church of The Most Holy Redeemer on October 20, 2015 in Bray, Ireland. It is the first of the funerals for 10 people who lost their lives at a traveller halting site in Carrickmines on October 10. The 5 being buried today are Willie Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) and Willie's brother, Jimmy Lynch (39). (Photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images)
Teachers from St. Peter's primary school in Bray, where Jodie Lynch attended, await the funeral cortege's departure from the Church of the Holy Redeemer in Bray, Co. Wicklow, following the funeral mass of Jimmy Lynch and of Willie Lynch and Tara Gilbert, and their children Jodie and Kelsey, who died in the Carrickmines blaze. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 20, 2015. See PA story IRISH Carrickmines. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams leaves the Church of the Holy Redeemer in Bray, Co. Wicklow, following the funeral mass of Jimmy Lynch and of Willie Lynch and Tara Gilbert, and their children Jodie and Kelsey, who died in the Carrickmines blaze. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 20, 2015. See PA story IRISH Carrickmines. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The funeral cortege of Jimmy Lynch and of Willie Lynch and Tara Gilbert, and their children Jodie and Kelsey, who died in the Carrickmines blaze makes it's way to Springfield cemetary, Bray, Co. Wicklow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 20, 2015. See PA story IRISH Carrickmines. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Mourners at the Church of the Holy Redeemer in Bray, Co. Wicklow, for the funeral mass of Jimmy Lynch and of Willie Lynch and Tara Gilbert, and their children Jodie and Kelsey, who died in the Carrickmines blaze. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 20, 2015. See PA story IRISH Carrickmines. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
BRAY, IRELAND - OCTOBER 20: Teachers from the school of Jodie White, aged 9 line the street in mourning at the funeral of a young family killed in a fire being held at the Church of The Most Holy Redeemer on October 20, 2015 in Bray, Ireland. It is the first of the funerals for 10 people who lost their lives at a traveller halting site in Carrickmines on October 10. The 5 being buried today are Willie Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) and Willie's brother, Jimmy Lynch (39). (Photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images)
BRAY, IRELAND - OCTOBER 20: 5 hearses carry the bodies of a young family killed in a fire from their funeral at the Church of The Most Holy Redeemer on October 20, 2015 in Bray, Ireland. It is the first of the funerals for 10 people who lost their lives at a traveller halting site in Carrickmines on October 10. The 5 being buried today are Willie Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) and Willie's brother, Jimmy Lynch (39). (Photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images)
Tanaiste Joan Burton arrives for the funeral mass of Jimmy Lynch and of Willie Lynch and Tara Gilbert, and their children Jodie and Kelsey, who died in the Carrickmines blaze. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 20, 2015. See PA story IRISH Carrickmines. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
BRAY, IRELAND - OCTOBER 20: Mourners attend the funeral of a young family killed in a fire being held at the Church of The Most Holy Redeemer on October 20, 2015 in Bray, Ireland. It is the first of the funerals for 10 people who lost their lives at a traveller halting site in Carrickmines on October 10. The 5 being buried today are Willie Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) and Willie's brother, Jimmy Lynch (39). (Photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images)
BRAY, IRELAND - OCTOBER 20: Teachers from the school of Jodie White, aged 9 line the street in mourning at the funeral of a young family killed in a fire being held at the Church of The Most Holy Redeemer on October 20, 2015 in Bray, Ireland. It is the first of the funerals for 10 people who lost their lives at a traveller halting site in Carrickmines on October 10. The 5 being buried today are Willie Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) and Willie's brother, Jimmy Lynch (39). (Photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images)
BRAY, IRELAND - OCTOBER 20: 5 hearses carry the bodies of a young family killed in a fire from their funeral at the Church of The Most Holy Redeemer on October 20, 2015 in Bray, Ireland. It is the first of the funerals for 10 people who lost their lives at a traveller halting site in Carrickmines on October 10. The 5 being buried today are Willie Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) and Willie's brother, Jimmy Lynch (39). (Photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images)
BRAY, IRELAND - OCTOBER 20: Mourners attend the funeral of a young family killed in a fire being held at the Church of The Most Holy Redeemer on October 20, 2015 in Bray, Ireland. It is the first of the funerals for 10 people who lost their lives at a traveller halting site in Carrickmines on October 10. The 5 being buried today are Willie Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) and Willie's brother, Jimmy Lynch (39). (Photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images)
BRAY, IRELAND - OCTOBER 20: 5 hearses carry the bodies of a young family killed in a fire from their funeral at the Church of The Most Holy Redeemer on October 20, 2015 in Bray, Ireland. It is the first of the funerals for 10 people who lost their lives at a traveller halting site in Carrickmines on October 10. The 5 being buried today are Willie Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) and Willie's brother, Jimmy Lynch (39). (Photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images)
BRAY, IRELAND - OCTOBER 20: Builders line the street outside the funeral of a young family killed in a fire being held at the Church of The Most Holy Redeemer on October 20, 2015 in Bray, Ireland. It is the first of the funerals for 10 people who lost their lives at a traveller halting site in Carrickmines on October 10. The 5 being buried today are Willie Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) and Willie's brother, Jimmy Lynch (39). (Photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images)
BRAY, IRELAND - OCTOBER 20: Mourners attend the funeral of a young family killed in a fire being held at the Church of The Most Holy Redeemer on October 20, 2015 in Bray, Ireland. It is the first of the funerals for 10 people who lost their lives at a traveller halting site in Carrickmines on October 10. The 5 being buried today are Willie Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) and Willie's brother, Jimmy Lynch (39). (Photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images)
BRAY, IRELAND - OCTOBER 20: Hearses containing the coffins of a young family killed in a fire arrive for the funeral being held at the Church of The Most Holy Redeemer on October 20, 2015 in Bray, Ireland. It is the first of the funerals for 10 people who lost their lives at a traveller halting site in Carrickmines on October 10. The 5 being buried today are Willie Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) and Willie's brother, Jimmy Lynch (39). (Photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images)
BRAY, IRELAND - OCTOBER 20: Hearses containing the coffins of a young family killed in a fire arrive for the funeral being held at the Church of The Most Holy Redeemer on October 20, 2015 in Bray, Ireland. It is the first of the funerals for 10 people who lost their lives at a traveller halting site in Carrickmines on October 10. The 5 being buried today are Willie Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) and Willie's brother, Jimmy Lynch (39). (Photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images)
BRAY, IRELAND - OCTOBER 20: Mourners attend the funeral of a young family killed in a fire being held at the Church of The Most Holy Redeemer on October 20, 2015 in Bray, Ireland. It is the first of the funerals for 10 people who lost their lives at a traveller halting site in Carrickmines on October 10. The 5 being buried today are Willie Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) and Willie's brother, Jimmy Lynch (39). (Photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images)
BRAY, IRELAND - OCTOBER 20: 5 hearses of a young family killed in a fire arrive for their funeral at the Church of The Most Holy Redeemer on October 20, 2015 in Bray, Ireland. It is the first of the funerals for 10 people who lost their lives at a traveller halting site in Carrickmines on October 10. The 5 being buried today are Willie Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) and Willie's brother, Jimmy Lynch (39). (Photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images)
BRAY, IRELAND - OCTOBER 20: Coffins of a young family killed in a fire arrive for the funeral at the Church of The Most Holy Redeemer on October 20, 2015 in Bray, Ireland. It is the first of the funerals for 10 people who lost their lives at a traveller halting site in Carrickmines on October 10. The 5 being buried today are Willie Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) and Willie's brother, Jimmy Lynch (39). (Photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images)
BRAY, IRELAND - OCTOBER 20: Hearses containing the coffins of a young family killed in a fire arrive for the funeral being held at the Church of The Most Holy Redeemer on October 20, 2015 in Bray, Ireland. It is the first of the funerals for 10 people who lost their lives at a traveller halting site in Carrickmines on October 10. The 5 being buried today are Willie Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) and Willie's brother, Jimmy Lynch (39). (Photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images)
The coffins arrive at the Church of the Holy Redeemer in Bray, Co. Wicklow, for the funeral mass of Jimmy Lynch and of Willie Lynch and Tara Gilbert, and their children Jodie and Kelsey, who died in the Carrickmines blaze. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 20, 2015. See PA story IRISH Carrickmines. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The mass was concelebrated by ten, including Bishop Eamon Walsh, representing Archbishop Diarmuid Martin who is currently in Rome.

Chief celebrant Fr Derek Farrell, parish priest of the parish of Travelling People said that as a couple, Tara and Willy were very loving and close.

"John, Willy’s brother put it so simply and beautifully when he said: ‘God made them, God matched them.’ " he said.

"They stuck like glue to one another, and bonded very well.  They managed everything so well, the house, the family…  they were a really happy, loving family," said Fr Farrell.

He said Willy cherished what he called his 'three girls' Tara, Kelsey, & Jodie and brought the girls everywhere with him.

"Kelsey stuck like a magnet to Willy, always wanted to be close to her Daddy.  Jodie meant the world to Willy as well.  His family would say of Willy, ‘He never stops talking!  He loved fixing bikes, he loved his hunting, he loved nature, he loved life’."

There was laughter as he said Tara was "the boss" - in the best possible way.

 "When it came to care of her family and taking care of others, she took charge.  Beautiful inside and out, always smiling, easy-going, never grumpy, a fantastic Mum, her children always came first.," recalled Fr Farrell. Jimmy, brother of Willy and Sylvia, was very popular and loved by family and friends.  He had a heart of gold, and being very good with his hands, he liked to fix things, and especially to fix things for other people.  He loved Elvis.  Jimmy was very good to his, only quite recently deceased, beloved mother, Mary, and he was her pride and joy," he said.

 Fr Farrell commented that only the families themselves can know the reality of what their loss actually means.

 And he said that is why the widespread instinctive outpouring of support for the families has been, and will continue to be so important.

 "There has been so much good done, and goodwill shown.  The flowers, messages, books of condolences, prayer vigils, Masses, the wonderful Fassaroe neighbourhood street candles and altar, the shrines, the prayers, the songs," he said.

 And, he said, all of this has been in a context of "often new close relationship and interactions between settled and Traveller, united in various forms of solidarity and prayer over the past week."

 He said this unity was "perhaps no more poignantly and particularly embodied than in the loving relationship of Tara as a young settled woman and Willy as a young Traveller man, and the family they together established so beautifully."

Fr Farrell said that like many other people, he awoke to the early morning news last Saturday week hoping he was just waking from a bad dream, but quickly realising that he was waking to "an enormous unfolding tragedy that was all too real."

Saturday, 10th October 2015 will forever be remembered as a horrific and tragic day in the history of our country, he said.

"The three families, Lynch, Gilbert, and Connors, the entire Traveller Community and Ireland as a nation suffered a loss which is beyond words," said Fr Farrell.

However, he said he hoped some lasting good could come out of this tragedy so that their deaths were not in vain.

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