Support for Clarissa’s Cause ‘has truly touched my heart’, says mum

Bereaved mother Rebecca Saunders, who launched a fundraising campaign to exhume her daughter’s body after she was buried in her killer’s arms has raised more than €29,000 in four days
Support for Clarissa’s Cause ‘has truly touched my heart’, says mum

Clarissa McCarthy was killed by her father, Martin McCarthy, 50, before he killed himself on Audley Cove in West Cork on March 5, 2013.

The mother of a little girl who was buried in her father’s arms after he killed them both, has thanked the public for hearing her tragic story, and said that she feels “lifted up and held” by the support.

Rebecca Saunders’ daughter Clarissa McCarthy was just three years old when she was killed by her father, Rebecca’s then-husband Martin McCarthy.

Following an article and podcast with the Irish Examiner, Rebecca launched a campaign to have her daughter’s body exhumed to take her out of her killer's arms and back to America where she now lives.

Her campaign, Clarissa’s Cause raised more than $40,000 in four days.

“I feel so lifted up and held by everyone who has taken the time to reach out to me,” Rebecca said.

“Your words, prayers, wishes and aid have instilled in me so much hope that I didn’t have mere months ago. Hope that Clarissa’s final resting place does not have to be half a world away from me.

“Thank you everyone who have opened up their heart to myself and Clarissa.

“Thank you for hearing my story, I know that it is not easy to listen to.

“My heart is filled with gratitude, love and hope at the sheer scale of support shared with me.

“The loving support Clarissa’s Cause has received has truly touched my heart."

Clarissa McCarthy's grave in Schull, West Cork.
Clarissa McCarthy's grave in Schull, West Cork.

Rebecca McCarthy, now 33, met her late husband Martin McCarthy, 50, when she walked into his west Cork farm yard and asked for work experience while visiting Ireland on a study abroad student scheme.

She was just 16 and he was 42 but a romantic relationship developed and they later married and had one daughter, Clarissa.

But when Rebecca asked for a divorce after suffering through years of an unhappy, controlling marriage, Martin drowned their only child and then himself on Audley Cove in West Cork on March 5, 2013.

The deaths led to a bitter split in the local community, with some people inexplicably blaming Rebecca for the deaths.

But Irish society has changed in the eight years since the tragedy.

There is now more understanding of domestic abuse and coercive control has become a criminal offence.

“There is more of a level of understanding of what victims go through in cases like Clarissa’s," Rebecca said, adding that "brave survivors" have spoken out and changed the perception of such traumatic situations.

“This momentum needs to see through many more changes as to how we treat these awful tragedies. Empathy doesn’t mean we stay immobilized, it means we stand up and work together as a society, a global society, to change for the better.”

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