Town unites in grief for brothers who led simple life

Castlebar came to a standstill yesterday as the town united in grief and paid tribute to murdered brothers Jackie and Tom Blaine.

The searing sunshine was in sharp contrast to the tears that flowed freely in the Church of the Holy Rosary as Teresa Dunne, a relative of the dead men, read a specially written poem for the two brothers.

Poet Clodagh O’Brien penned ‘Kisses’ after seeing Jackie some time ago planting occasional kisses, as was his habit, on windows.

The words were greeted with applause and some tears from mourners who recognised Jackie from the pen-picture that had been painted of him.

The offertory gifts at the funeral Mass, which was attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, reflected the simple things in life the brothers were interested in.

For Jackie, a drinking mug — the one he sipped perhaps thousands of free cups of tea from in Rocky’s Bar — and a model car, representing his love for motors, were brought to the altar.

For Tom, the gifts were equally uncomplicated — Rosary beads and a shopping bag, the latter highlighting his role as the gatherer of the weekly provisions for the household.

The church was full to capacity for the funeral Mass. Local curate Fr Michael Farragher was the main celebrant.

Fr Farragher spoke of a town being engulfed in shock, disbelief, and fear in the aftermath of the killings.

People had nothing to say but good things about Jack and Tom — they were “angels”, a good description, he said.

That was why, he continued, what happened was “so wrong, so awful, so sad”.

Fr Farragher recalled the compassion towards the brothers shown by neighbours during their lifetime.

“People accepted them with their special needs and looked out for them with kindness and compassion.”

The community in Ballina had also reached in kindness to another family affected by the terrible tragedy, he continued.

Amongst the concelebrants was Bishop John Dunne, a retired auxiliary bishop from the US.

Like the Blaine brothers, Bishop Dunne is a native of Crimlin, in Castlebar.

Paul Dunne, a cousin of the Blaines, spoke briefly at the Mass, thanking the community for their sympathy and support.

The mood was sombre as two hearses brought the remains of the brothers to their last resting place in the New Cemetery, the silence only punctuated by footfall and the low rumble of the hearse engines.

Along the way, the cortege stopped briefly at the small two-storey house in New Antrim St, which is now a shrine to the murdered men, with the footpath piled high with floral tributes.

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