Carrickmines Fire: ‘If you scratch below the surface, there’s a lot of anger’

An eerie silence descended on the church yard, interrupted only by the bagpiper’s lonesome drone of Patrick’s Kavanagh’s ‘Raglan Road’ and a newborn baby’s cry, as five hearses crept into Bride Street Church in the heart of Wexford town.
Carrickmines Fire: ‘If you scratch below the surface, there’s a lot of anger’
Relatives of the Connors family console each other at the funeral of Thomas, Sylvia, Christopher, Jim, and baby Mary Connors

The convoy made the journey following a funeral Mass at the Church of the Ascension in Balally, Dublin, yesterday, and arrived in Wexford shortly after 5pm. The burial ceremony will take place today at St Ibar’s Cemetery, Crosstown, just outside Wexford town.

A large group of Wexford- based relations of the Connors family lined the barricade, which had been erected in the church yard to allow ease of access for the hearses, to welcome their family to the church which is a special place to the family and frequently the chosen venue for weddings.

The three small white coffins were carried from the vehicles to the porch of the church first and their parents’ coffins were taken behind them.

Parish administrator Fr Aodhán Markem performed a blessing of the coffins before they were taken to the foot of the altar. A brief prayer service commenced after the large crowd had moved inside. This was co-celebrated by priest of the travelling parish, Fr Dermot Lane.

The coffins of three children are removed from the Church of the Ascension of the Lord
The coffins of three children are removed from the Church of the Ascension of the Lord

Fr Markem told the congregation he expected that “many may have questions” and encouraged people to “share their feelings and express them”.

“We are all free to express our frustration here,” the priest said.

“During the past few days, we have been left with many questions. Chief among them is why did this have to happen?”

Fr Markem also noted that the Connors family were now in “the hearts and minds of the nation”.

“When a parent or an elderly person dies, they take away a part of history. When a young parent or child dies they take away the future,” he concluded.

A relation of the deceased, Mary Connors, 44, from Wexford town, revealed that the family were struggling to come to terms with the tragedy.

Ms Connors stated that “if you scratch below the surface, there’s a lot of anger.”

Relatives of the Connors family console each other at the funeral of Thomas, Sylvia, Christopher, Jim, and baby Mary Connors
Relatives of the Connors family console each other at the funeral of Thomas, Sylvia, Christopher, Jim, and baby Mary Connors

It is claimed that the Connors family had raised safety concerns regarding the halting site at Glenamuck.

According to Ms Connors, the family were particularly concerned about fire safety. “This fire could have been prevented,” she said. “They had constantly during the past seven years asked for fire extinguishers and hoses and for a full electrical check to be carried out.

“One of the biggest dangers is overcrowding. There isn’t the space between the caravans that there needs to be. There’s meant to be six or seven feet between each caravan or chalet but that’s not the way it is. That’s why the fire spread from one to the other so easily.”

Spokesperson for the travelling community in Wexford, Nan Furlong (nee Connors), added that the family feel that it is essential that a full safety check will be performed at all halting sites throughout the country as a matter of urgency, to prevent further tragedies.

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