| 8.3°C Belfast

Tributes to mum Marie Downey who died with newborn baby in maternity unit

Close

Tragic death: Marie Downey

Tragic death: Marie Downey

Tragic death: Marie Downey

Tragic Limerick mother-of-three Marie Downey was "a gorgeous girl" with a "heart of gold", a close family friend has said.

They said news of her and her four-day-old son Darragh's death at Cork University Maternity Hospital was "unbelievable".

The tragic mother is expected to be buried with the little boy in her arms.

Mrs Downey was hailed as a wonderful mother and a valued work colleague, employed as a laboratory technician with pharmaceutical giant Novartis in Cork.

A post-mortem examination on Mrs Downey was carried out yesterday, but the results will take time to compile.

The infant's post-mortem is scheduled to take place today.

Mrs Downey lived with her husband, Kieran, and two sons on the Cork-Limerick border at Knockanevin outside Kildorrery.

She was originally from Ballyagran in Co Limerick.

Cork coroner Philip Comyn has requested the services of a specialist neo-natal pathologist to determine the infant boy's cause of death.

It is believed Mrs Downey fell ill and tumbled unconscious out of her hospital bed onto the floor.

She was discovered by staff shortly before 8am last Monday and was pronounced dead at the scene despite desperate efforts to revive her.

Her baby son was critically ill and lost his 36-hour battle for life on Tuesday evening.

Councillor Jerome Scanlan, a friend of Mrs Downey's family, said the entire community was shocked by what had happened. "They are a hugely respected family here and everyone in the community is heartbroken for them. Everyone is shocked by the scale of the tragedy," Mr Scanlan explained.

A friend said: "It's unbelievable - she was a gorgeous girl. She had a heart of gold and she was very caring."

Novartis said in a statement: "Marie Downey was a valued member of our team. Our thoughts and prayers are with Marie's family and friends during this very difficult time. Marie will be fondly remembered here at Novartis Ringaskiddy."

In Kildorrery, not far from the Downey's home in Knockanevin, parish priest Fr Eamon Kelleher said everyone was shocked.

"They are a very close community and take great care of each other. Everyone feels the tragedy. They are gathering here every morning to pray for the Downeys and to pray for Marie and the little boy, Darragh," he said

"They (the family) are being surrounded by support, but at the same time the whole community feels helpless."

Belfast Telegraph