Heartbreaking scenes unfolded in Wexford town yesterday as relatives of Thomas and Sylvia Connors and their children were flanked by mourners while the funeral convoy made its way to their final resting place.
But it has emerged that the Connors family were unable to book a hotel or restaurant for a meal after the burial.
At the last minute arrangements were made to open a local community centre to provide refreshments to the immediate family members.
Former mayor of Wexford and constituency assistant to Minister Brendan Howlin, county councillor George Lawlor, revealed he was made aware of the situation only upon arrival at the church when a Wexford-based superintendent informed him of the difficulty in securing a venue. Cllr Lawlor contacted the St Joseph’s Club Community Centre, in the Bishopswater area of Wexford town and the decision was taken to open the facility.
Actor John Connors, who played the character Patrick Ward on RTÉ’s crime drama Love/Hate, launched a scathing attack on the local business community in Wexford through social media – he claimed the decision by some retailers to close on Thursday and Friday was a testament to the county’s “long history for its ill treatment of Travellers”.
However, Cllr Lawlor remarked that the difficulty in booking a hotel was possibly due to a significant increase in demand during the Wexford Festival Opera.
Victims of the Carrickmines fire were taken by horse-drawn carriage from the Church of the Assumption Bride Street, after a short prayer service, to St Ibar’s Cemetery Crosstown for burial at midday.
Wexford town came to a standstill as the large funeral procession, made up of the Connors’ extended family and a host of dignitaries, walked the full distance from the church to the cemetery, which is just over two miles.
The late Thomas and Sylvia Connors and their three children; Jim, 5, Christy, 3, and baby Mary, 5 months, were buried near a number of their relations: Thomas’ grandfather is buried at Crosstown, as is a cousin, Michael Connors, who was killed in a motorcycle crash.
While the funeral Mass for the five family members had taken place the previous morning in Balally Church, Dublin, a short prayer service was also held in Wexford prior to the burial.
Wexford town parish administrator Fr Aodhan Markem led the service.
Fr Markem said: “All we can do as a nation and as a people is to walk beside you and with you, we cannot walk in your shoes because we cannot begin to understand the depth of your pain and how broken your hearts are — genuinely hearts are broken and the words we offer are oft times futile and without impact, so we stand with you and in confused and broken words.”
Prior to the conclusion of the service Bishop of the Diocese of Ferns Denis Brennan took to the podium and led the final prayers.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and his cabinet colleague Wexford native Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin attended the service.
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