Sisters embrace before their mother’s coffin

Eyes welled with tears in a packed congregation as two sisters lovingly embraced each other in front of their mother’s coffin yesterday.

Nurses accompanied the injured Michelle Greaney as she hugged her younger sister Sarah in Cobh’s St Colman’s Cathedral.

The sisters survived the horrific domestic incident in which their father Michael, 53, stabbed and killed his wife Valerie and attacked Michelle, before taking his own life.

Michelle, 21, still recovering from chest wounds, was released from Cork University Hospital yesterday to attend the requiem Mass for her 49-year-old mother.

Both mother and daughter were attacked by Mr Greaney at their home at O’Neill’s Place, Cobh, last Sunday.

A Naval Service veteran, he had recently been released from the Central Mental Hospital.

Michelle embraced Sarah, 16, and other relatives during an emotional service, attended by more than 1,000 people.

Sarah had escaped injury after her mother — worried by Mr Greaney’s agitated state — told her to leave the family home and go to a neighbour’s house.

The teenager is now being cared for by relatives.

Chief celebrant at the Mass, Fr Pat O’Donoghue, said a darkness hung over the town of Cobh.

In his homily, he said Valerie “was known in her extended family as someone who was always quick to forgive”.

“You would have to go far to find anyone who would have a bad word to say about her and she herself would have very few bad words to say about anyone.”

Valerie was buried at St Colman’s Cemetery, just a few yards from the family home where she lost her life.

Her husband, who was originally from Ballyhea, in north Cork, will have a private ceremony over the weekend, during which he will be laid to rest in the same plot as his wife.

His body was brought from a funeral home in Charleville last night to Cobh, where he was reposing in the local community hospital’s mortuary.

The family have requested that his funeral be a strictly private affair, and have appealed for any donations to be made to Breaking the Silence, a voluntary local group which works to help create a suicide-safer community by connecting people at risk of suicide with life preserving resources.

Gardaí have spoken to Michelle informally and are waiting until she is well enough to take a formal statement.

Officers are currently preparing a file for a coroner’s inquest into the double tragedy.


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