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Pope's message of sorrow and support as Dublin blaze family laid to rest

By Adam Cullen

Published 21/10/2015

The remains of Willy Lynch, his partner Tara Gilbert, and children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4), and Willy’s brother Jimmy after their funeral mass in Bray, Co Wicklow
The remains of Willy Lynch, his partner Tara Gilbert, and children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4), and Willy’s brother Jimmy after their funeral mass in Bray, Co Wicklow
Mourners at the funeral

Pope Francis has expressed his "deep sadness" after an horrific fire ripped through a south Dublin halting site, claiming the lives of 10 people.

The first of the victims were laid to rest in Bray, Co Wicklow, yesterday, where a message from the pontiff was read to the hundreds of mourners who bid an emotional farewell to an entire family lost in the flames.

The congregation in Most Holy Redeemer Church sobbed as the Pope's message was delivered in front of two small white coffins that lay beside those of their parents and uncle.

"Pope Francis, having learned of the horrific fire in Carrickmines, expresses his deep sadness over this tragedy," said Bishop Eamonn Walsh. "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."

The bodies of pregnant Tara Gilbert (27), her partner Willy Lynch (25) and their two daughters Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) were interred in the town's Springfield cemetery alongside Mr Lynch's brother Jimmy (39).

Fr Derek Farrell, of the Parish of the Travelling People, described Tara and Willy as a loving couple whose children "always came first".

He said their love transcended the cultural divide and brought the settled and Traveller communities together in "poignant unity".

"A unity 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," he said.

The family, from Fassaroe, had been visiting Willy and Jimmy's sister Sylvia Connors (25) and her young family in Carrickmines when the fire broke out during the early hours of October 10.

Sylvia, her husband Thomas Connors (27) and their three children Jim (5), Christy (2) and Mary (five months) also died in the blaze.

Their other son Thomas Connors (4) survived and is to be released from hospital into the care of his aunts and uncles today.

The Connors family are to be laid to rest in Wexford on Friday.

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