Ripples of laughter punctuated stunned silence yesterday as the people of Ballinkillen reflected on the short but joy-filled lives of Eoghan and Ruairi Chada, but mostly the sounds were those of grief.
The packed church and the hundreds who sat and stood outside heard how Eoghan, 10, wanted to be a chef, practiced his magic tricks on his little brother, and bought a calf with his Holy Communion money.
Ruairi, 5, never saw himself as the little brother and Eoghan “could never say no to him”, parish priest Fr Declan Foley said.
From the time they could walk, they were in the church helping their grandmother Patsy, who is the sacristan, along with their cousins and friends.
“Every day the boys lived with joy and energy, and they loved their Mam and Dad deeply. It’s very important to emphasise that — they loved their Mam and Dad deeply.”
Just before 1pm yesterday, the village fell silent as two hearses bearing two white coffins emerged onto the main road after the boys reposed in their home overnight.
Guards of honour were provided by their school friends from the nearby national school and by their club mates from Ballinkillen Hurling Club, Fenagh Gaelic Football Club, and Nurney Villa Football Club, representing just some of the boys’ passions in life.
After the funeral Mass started, symbols of their interests were brought to the altar by some of their cousins, and included a hurley and ball, a toy tractor, a cookbook, a golf club, a bicycle, and a photograph from a family holiday in Duncannon, Co Wexford.
“Happy, happy times,” was how their mother’s cousin, Tom O’Reilly, described that holiday, as he spoke about the symbols of the boys’ lives.
He told of how nothing gave the brothers more pleasure than helping out with “the jobs”, whether on the farm with their grandfather or in the church with their grandmother, or at home.
Along with cooking, Eoghan’s other great passion was golf, Mr O’Reilly said, and he was delighted to finally get membership of Borris Golf Club.
“Ruairi was just content with chipping balls into the washing machine, like a young Rory McIllroy.”
Reflections were read out by Kathleen’s cousins, Ann and Aine Shepard, from the boys’ aunt and cousins in Australia.
They recalled conversations across the globe on Skype, “sharing funny faces while our parents were talking” and “hilarious” times when they talked of what they had in common and what they’d do when they met up, such as camping in the Australian outback when they were old enough to drive. “Your uniqueness made us all like you so quickly,” the cousins said.
In his homily, Fr Foley said the images from their lives “gives us a picture of two beautiful little boys who lived life to the full and who embraced every day with energy and were full of love and happiness”.
The final blessing was given by Fr Denis Nulty, who is being ordained Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin tomorrow and who concelebrated the Mass with diocesan administrator Monsignor Brendan Byrne and Fr Foley.
Then, it was time for the little coffins to make their last journey, to the graveyard where their grief- stricken family and friends said their last goodbye.
The man charged with the murders of his two sons in Co Mayo was further remanded in custody when he appeared before a district court judge yesterday.
Sanjeev Chada, pictured above, is to appear in Harristown court, Castlerea, on Aug 16.
Yesterday, less than 14 hours after his first appearance at a special sitting of Swinford District Court, where he was charged with the murders of Eoghan, 10, and Ruairi Chada, aged 5, the 43-year-old was again in court.
Yesterday the accused’s ponytail was untied and his hair flowed loosely on to his shoulders.
Garda Insp Padraig Jones applied for a remand in custody for two weeks.
James Hanley, solicitor for Mr Chada, told the judge he was concerned that his client be looked after and inquired about the possibility of psychiatric help.
Judge Conal Gibbons directed appropriate medical treatment for Mr Chada, but not a psychiatric report.