Heartbroken parents, Helen and Thomas O’Driscoll, who are still struggling to comes to terms with the appalling tragedy which befell their family at home in Charleville last week, brought the bodies of their boys — twins, Tom and Paddy, aged nine, and Jonathan, 21, from O’Malley’s funeral home back home last night to where the tragedy began to unfold last Thursday.
The twins, who were third-class pupils at the nearby Banogue National School in Croom, Co Limerick, were found stabbed to death in separate bedrooms at around 5pm that evening.
Jonathan’s body was discovered a short time later some 15km away beside a river in Buttevant, north Cork.
While gardaí have not commented officially on the nature of their investigation, they believe the twins were murdered and that foul play was not involved in Jonathan’s death.
In fading autumn evening sunshine last night, on the road outside the family home, two hearses paused — one carrying the twins in two white coffins, the other carrying Jonathan, also in a white coffin.
There were emotional scenes as the family prayed before the cortège returned the Holy Cross Church.
Earlier, about 300 mourners filed in to the funeral home to pay their respects.
The twins were laid out in open white coffins, each dressed in the smart grey, blue communion suits they had worn just a few short months ago.
They were each clasping simple white rosary beads.
Dozens of treasured family photographs of the twins were resting gently on top of them.
Mourners offered what little words of comfort they could to the boys’ parents while others simply shook their heads in disbelief.
The family walked behind the hearses to the church, before immediate family members drove the short distance to the family home for a private moment of prayer.
The three coffins were later placed before the altar at Holy Rosary Church, along with several ornate floral tributes, including a barrel top caravan, a horse and a little racing car.
Fr Tom Naughton, who has been supporting the family since Thursday’s shocking events, led prayers for the entire family, but for the parents in particular.
“We come here as friends and as people whose hearts go out to them in their loss,” he said.
“Even in the depths of tragedy, even in our darkest loss, we know that God will bring us all back together again.
“That is what you must cling on to now at this very dark time.
“Remember that that candle standing at the head of the boys’ coffins, that you see lighting, is lighting because it reminds us that life does not end with death, but that eternal life, because of God’s mercy and love, continues.
“There’s no more pain, there’s no more heartbreak, there’s no more sin.
“There’s just love.”
The twins will be buried in nearby Holy Cross Cemetery after Requiem mass for the three at noon today.
Jonathan will be buried separately in Kilmallock Cemetery at 3pm.
Gardaí have said that investigating officers in Charleville were not looking for any other person in relation to the twins’ deaths.
Post mortems were conducted on the remains of all three brothers on Friday but gardaí were not releasing the results for operational reasons.
However, detectives have recovered several personal papers and a mobile phone from Jonathan’s car and are expected to examine the phone records over the coming days.
He had been trying to contact his birth mother, and was facing court proceedings over a relatively minor road traffic offence, and possession of a Stanley knife.
It is understood he made several calls to family members on Thursday afternoon before the twins were attacked, and may also have made certain other arrangements.
This has led to the theory that there may have been an element of planning involved in the sequence of events.
Gardaí are now set to prepare a file for the coroner’s court which will hear inquests into the deaths in due course.