By Liam Heylin
The family of mother and daughter Geraldine and Louise Clancy has spoken of the devastating impact their deaths in a Cork crash have had.
Noel Clancy told how he and his other children Fiona and Declan had gone into the funeral home in Fermoy for a rosary on the day after his wife and daughter were killed after their car was hit by a car driven by their neighbour Susan Gleeson near their home in Kilworth in December last year.
“That evening the rosary was said in the funeral home. When we went in and saw the coffins side by side, my heart broke,” Mr Clancy said.
“I pushed the coffins apart and knelt between them and put my left hand on Geraldine’s clasped hands and my right hand on Louise’s and cried for my wife and daughter.”
He also recalled how he listened to Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind” and thought how it reflected the tragedy of deaths on Irish roads.
Noel Clancy told Cork Circuit Criminal Court in his victim impact statement how he was in a daze at the funeral Mass for his wife and daughter, when the choir sang the Dylan anthem which was a favourite of Louise’s.
“I could see Louise singing and playing her guitar - the words might well be the story of road collisions in Ireland: ‘How many deaths will it take to know that too many people have died – the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind’," he said.
Mr Clancy spoke about how Louise had overcome her struggles with autism to study English and Sociology at UCC. She was hoping to become a journalist and had just returned home for Christmas from her ERASMUS year at the University of Sussex when the crash happened.
He recalled how on Christmas Day – three days after they were killed - the undertaker asked him a question about the funeral which he hoped that he would never have to ask any other family ever again as he spoke of the devastation that had hit their family on an ordinary December morning.
“He asked me ‘Which coffin will we lower first?’,” recalled Mr Clancy.
“While most people were enjoying Christmas with their families, i was trying to make a decision. I phoned him back and told him that we would lower Geraldine first and place Louise back in her arms.”
Fiona Clancy spoke about how her sister’s life had been cut short and how she would never get to graduate from university or reach her goal of working as a journalist or travel the world as she had dreamed of doing.
“She will never get engaged or married or be a mother. She will never get to celebrate another birthday or Christmas or family occasion or spend time with her many dear friends. She will never smile, laugh or breathe again. Instead she will spend the rest of eternity in her grave, aged just 22.
“The weekends when I get home now are so strange...Our home will never feel the same again. Instead I go to their grave on these weekends.
“It is still beyond surreal to see their names and a date of death on their headstone. I cannot believe it.”
Declan Clancy also spoke of the impact of the tragedy on him, describing how the grief is all consuming, “like a tidal wave crashing over” him until he is left paralysed, as he struggles at work to come to terms with the loss.
“And now when I go home, I’m struck by a deafening silence,” he said.
“No longer am I greeted excitedly by Louise telling me about her latest adventure in college or by a loving hug from my mam. Instead as I sit the kitchen table, I stare across a two empty chairs when they should be.”
“The thought of my mother and sister screaming for their lives, knowing that they were going to drown tortures me every night.
“The nightmares leave me physically exhausted. I hear their screams...I see them die again and again,” he said.