Two brothers in Cork are struggling to cover the costs of their mother’s funeral after she passed away suddenly on holidays in Majorca, writes Jess Casey.
Violet O’Neill, aged 51, Curraheen Estate, Bishopstown, was on holidays in Santa Ponsa when she passed away unexpectedly on May 23, without travel insurance.
Despite receiving financial assistance, her sons Joe, aged 28 and Craig, aged 19, are struggling to get the funds together to bring their mother’s body home to Cork.
“It’s an awful feeling, wondering how you’re going to pay the funeral directors,” Joe O’Neil told the Evening Echo.
“There’s no insurance, there’s no savings, there’s no nothing. The two of us were thinking how is this going to happen?” Mr O’Neill was due to start a new job on the day he received the news his mother had passed away.
“Everyone is saying that she’d a heart of gold,” Mr O’Neill said.
“She was a lot of things to everyone, but she was mad as a hatter. She was always up for a laugh and a joke.” Ms O’Neill was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2013 but she had undergone treatment and told her sons that she had been given the all-clear.
She was able to travel to Santa Ponsa with the help of her friends, who had pooled their money together so she could take the trip.
“She rang us and she was happy out. Santa Ponsa was her favourite place.” After the initial shock of receiving the news that their mother passed away, the brothers realised they didn’t have the funds to pay for the funeral.
“At the start, we were saying it’s never going to work, we’re not going to be able to bring her home and have a funeral here,” Mr O'Neill said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs, who are providing consular assistance to the brothers, advised them to contact the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust (KBRT).
The trust gives financial assistance to those who are faced with bringing the body of a loved one who died abroad suddenly back to Ireland.
“We rang Kevin Bell and they said ‘That’s it, we’ll take it from here,’” Mr O’Neill said, adding both the Department of Foreign Affairs and KBRT have been very helpful.
“Kevin Bell will pay to get her to Dublin, but after that the cost is with us,” Mr O’Neill said, adding he’s not sure what the costs of transporting his mother’s body back to Cork will be.
Although the brothers can receive financial assistance from the State, Mr O'Neill says the payment comes to roughly € 1,500.
“At the moment, they were giving me a price if she comes into Cork just to have not even a removal, just the church the night before and a cremation the next day would cost €5,800 that’s from Cork but I reckon if they’re coming into Dublin it’s going to drive the cost up further again, because they’re going to charge more again, maybe another thousand.”
As well as covering their own costs, the brothers are adamant they return the money to KBRT as quickly as possible.
“In a way, they are lending me the money. Kevin Bell is a charity, you can’t take the money and not give it back because you’re stopping the next person,” Mr O’Neill said.
“We don’t want to take it and not give it back and someone else be in our position and they’re not in the position to help.” A friend suggested the boys set up a GoFundMe page, several community groups are also holding fundraising events to help out.
Any money they raise over their goal will be donated back to Kevin Bell, or to families who find themselves in a similar situation. Mr O’Neill said.
“If people want to give the money, they can give the money. If not, we’re just going to have to struggle on.” He is hopeful that his mother’s body will be released in the coming days and that he will be able to start planning her funeral shortly.
To donate to the O’Neill’s fundraising campaign, click here
This article first appeared in the Evening Echo