Neighbours of an extended Traveller family virtually wiped out in an horrific fire on Saturday morning came together last night in a show of support and sympathy.
The move by the community at Fassaroe estate in Bray, Co Wicklow, was part of a wider outpouring of grief and shock — led by President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny — at the appalling tragedy, which claimed the lives of five adults and five children.
The Fassaroe Residents Group organised a candle-light display in the estate to mark the death of local couple Willie Lynch and his pregnant partner Tara Gilbert, along with their daughter Kelsey, aged four, and Jodie, aged nine, along with Willie’s brother Jimmy, 39.
They died along with Willie’s and Jimmy’s sister Sylvia, who along with husband Thomas Connors and their three children, Jim, aged five, Christy, aged two and Mary, just six months old, also perished.
A fourth child of the Connors’, Mick, aged six, is still in a critical condition at Crumlin Children’s Hospital.
Two adults were also brought to hospital.
Tara and Willie, and Jimmy, who all lived in Fassaroe estate, had joined the Connors family for a celebration at their portacabin at a halting site at Carrickmines, south Dublin, on Friday night.
There was a total of 25 people — including two other families — in the four portacabins on the site when the fire broke out, quickly engulfing two of the homes.
Relative Tara Lynch said she couldn’t believe the enormity of the tragedy. Posting on her Facebook page, she said: “Just why be so cruel God. I can’t believe it. Sylvia, Thomas, Tara, Willy, Jimmy and five kids gone.
“I can’t believe it. My heart is broke in bits. My whole Daddy’s side of the family is gone. What are we going to do. This time there is no way of healing the pain that everyone is going through.”
Along with other relatives she posted a series of photographs of the deceased in happier times, including ones of Sylvia and Thomas’s wedding day, others of their children and ones of Tara and Willie on Jodie’s communion day last May.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do with my aunties and uncles and all the children,” said Tara. “I’m so hurt now my heart is badly broken.”
Tara welcomed the move by Fassaroe Residents’ group to organise a public display of the community’s support.
In memory of “the five Fassaroe residents” who lost their lives in the Carrickmines fire and “as a mark of respect”, the group called on all residents to light a candle and leave it on the curb outside their houses at 7pm to “light up the streets of Fassaroe in memory of Tara, Willie, Kelsey, Jodie and Jimmy. May they rest in peace”.
Another family relative, Goldy Wall Connors, said yesterday was the birthday of Mick, the Connors’ fourth child, who is fighting for his life in hospital.
“God look after Mick Connors, who was the only one who survived,” she said.
She said Thomas and Sylvia had been waiting years for a baby girl: “They finally got her and she’s only five months old. She can’t be dead.”
At Carrickmines, a steady stream of people left flowers and teddies at the Statue of the Virgin Mary at the entrance to the halting site.
Books of Condolences were opened up in various locations.
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