A couple who lost three sons in a tragic murder-suicide in Cork six years ago are hoping for a fresh start after getting the key to a new home.
Helen and Thomas O’Driscoll moved out of the council home in Charleville where their eldest boy, Jonathan - who was being treated for severe psychosis - killed his twin nine-year-old brothers Paddy and Thomas, before taking his own life in 2014. They moved into the new house nearby with their sons Jimmy, nine, and Martin, eight, over Christmas.
And while the house was ready for the family on December 17, the key was delivered by Santa on Christmas morning, Helen revealed.
She said the young boys have always wanted a new home and that Santa left a letter with a map and instructions in their caravan on Christmas morning, which led the boys to their new home, where they found their presents under a Christmas tree.
“You should have seen their faces. They are just so happy to be in their own home at last, particularly after all the trauma they have been through,” Helen said.
“They love this house and even though we don’t have much in furniture or fittings, we are thrilled to be here. There is a very large garden and the boys have freedom to play ball, cycle their bikes and enjoy their own space.”
The horrific events in the house on September 4, 2014, shocked the nation.
An inquest heard that Jonathan had collected his four brothers from school and creche while his parents were in Waterford collecting a present for the twins’ birthday that afternoon.
But just over an hour later, he would attack the twins while they were changing out of their school clothes in their bedrooms. They sustained more than 40 stab wounds each.
Jonathan took his own life less than an hour later at a secluded spot on the banks of the Awbeg River in nearby Buttevant. Two knives were found in the river.
An inquest into the deaths later heard that a relationship breakup, the suicide of a close cousin, his quest for information about his birth family, and concerns over a pending court appearance linked to a minor road traffic offence had all combined to send Jonathan spiralling into depression.
And despite intermittent engagement with the mental health services and an improvement in his mental health in the weeks before the murder-suicide, it emerged that Jonathan had stopped taking his medication just days before he stabbed his twin brothers to death.
Gardaí and emergency services were confronted with horrific scenes inside the family home. It was so distressing, senior gardaí considered it inappropriate for family members to see the twins at the scene.
The family have never returned to live in the house. Helen and her youngest sons have been living for the last few years in a combination of rented accommodation, or with relatives and friends, while her husband, Thomas, has been living in a caravan in a yard beside the house to be close to the spirits of his dead boys.
The family, who believe the spirits of the twins are still in the house, had called for it to be demolished.
Pieta House: 1800 247247. Samaritans: 116 123 or text 087 2609090.