Two young brothers who were so close they shared a bed were buried side by side today as their father appeared in court charged with their murders.
Hundreds of people mourned the loss of 10-year-old Eoghan Chada and Ruairi, aged five, whose young lives were celebrated at a funeral Mass in their close-knit home town.
Silence fell over the idyllic village of Ballinkillen in Co Carlow as their devastated mother Kathleen, family and friends walked behind their two white coffins, with just the gentle sound of 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' being sung as they made their final short journey from the family home to church.
Their father Sanjeev Chada remains in custody after being charged with the double murder.
Parish priest Father Declan Foley said the pair had achieved so much in their short few years and lived with such energy and intensity that they brought joy and happiness to their parents and local community.
“The sudden and tragic death of the boys is beyond comprehension and almost impossible to put into words, but to remain silent would do Eoghan and Ruairi a disservice,” he said in his homily.
The boys went missing with their 43-year-old father after leaving the family home to go bowling on Sunday.
Father Foley said it felt as if the earth had quaked and house had shook when their bodies were discovered the next day in the boot of Chada’s crashed car, four miles from Westport, Co Mayo.
It is believed the boys died of asphyxiation, which can be caused by strangling or suffocation.
Heartbroken school friends from Ballinkillen National School and teammates from Ballinkillen Hurling Club, Nurney Soccer Club and Fenagh Football Club formed a guard of honour as two hearses made their way up a narrow country road to Saint Lazerian’s Church.
About a dozen stewards from the locality lined the route and held up umbrellas in an attempt to block the heartbreaking scene from the media.
They were buried together in a small cemetery in the church grounds.
Inside the church some of the boys’ 14 cousins and best friends carried a procession of symbols of their lives: a hurley, a football, toy tractor, cook book, golf club, bicycle and photograph.
Father Foley said photographs have portrayed the beautiful closeness and love between the brothers and manifests perfectly their relationship.
“Although the boys have their own rooms, they always slept together in the one bed,” he added.
Eoghan and Ruairi’s love of sport, cooking and farming were remembered throughout the emotional service, where school children and the church choir sang some of their favourite hymns and teachers and relatives read prayers of the faithful.
Throughout, a grief-stricken Mrs Chada was supported by her parents Patsy and Billy Murphy, mother-in-law Bilma, her son’s many aunts, uncles and cousins, as well as Mr Chada’s sister Suman and her partner Pablo, from Madrid, and brother Keshev and wife Audrey and children from Northern Ireland.
Prayers included the boy’s favourite Bible story, Noah’s Ark, and a reflection in Hindu by Father George Augustine, an Indian priest from Portlaoise.
Denis Nulty, who will become Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin on Sunday and Monsignor Brendan Byrne attended the service, which was relayed on loudspeakers outside for the hundreds who could not fit into the tiny rural church.
Just last Sunday the boys were in there with their grandmother, the sacristan, helping her tidy up after Mass, said Father Foley.
“Their deaths have stunned the whole community but particularly the parents of their classmates, and their big concern was how they were going to tell their own children this sad news,” he said.
Father Foley said Ruairi never saw himself as the little brother and Eoghan could never say no to him.
He revealed the eldest brother loved experimenting in the kitchen and that his latest ambition was to be a chef, but kept his options open after he recently bought a calf with his communion money.
“Little Ruairi loved nothing more than helping Poppy, as granddad Billy is called, around the farm,” he continued.
“He was going to be a tractor driver when he grew up.
“He was also looking forward to making his First Holy Communion and making some money.
“If Eoghan could buy a calf, he was going to buy a combine harvester,” he added.