Clarissa’s Cause fundraising appeal surpasses target

Over $50,210 was raised in just five days to help Rebecca Saunders to pay to exhume the body of her daughter Clarissa from her burial place in Schull, West Cork.
Clarissa’s Cause fundraising appeal surpasses target

Clarissa McCarthy's grave, with Schull Harbour, West Cork, in the background.

A fundraiser to help a bereaved mother have her daughter’s body exhumed, so that she is no longer buried in the same coffin as the man who killed her, has surpassed its goal of $50,000.

Over $50,210 (€43,450) was raised in just five days to help Rebecca Saunders to pay to exhume the body of her daughter, Clarissa, from a cemetery in Schull, West Cork, so that she can bring her daughter’s remains back to America where she now lives.

Clarissa McCarthy was just three years old when she was killed by her father, Rebecca’s then-husband Martin McCarthy, who then killed himself at Audley Cove, a little beach by their house in West Cork, on March 5, 2013.

In a haze of grief and shock, Rebecca allowed Clarissa to be buried in her father’s arms.

But almost since the coffin closed, she has regretted that decision.

"It’s very, very hard to think that my little girl is in his arms forever,” Rebecca previously told the Irish Examiner.

Now, thanks to the public’s support, she is one step closer to undoing that rushed decision, made just three days after the tragedy.

Some 1,600 people donated to Clarissa’s Cause on GoFundMe, with many donations flooding in from Ireland in support of Rebecca.

One man donated $1,250, the top donation to the cause.

Today, Rebecca said that the outpouring of support has given her a new sense of hope.

I feel so lifted up and held by everyone who has taken the time to reach out to me.

“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," said Rebecca.

“Thank you to everyone who has 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 costs of exhuming the little girl and returning her body to America are unclear.

Local authorities are responsible for the running of public burial grounds and exhumations.

If Cork County Council grants an exhumation licence, the process will be smoother and less expensive. But if an exhumation licence is refused, Rebecca will challenge that decision through the courts, which would be a much more expensive process.

If any money from the Clarissa’s Cause fundraiser is not needed for the exhumation or to pay for a legal challenge, all extra funds will go to two Cork charities, Edel House, a refuge for families fleeing domestic abuse, and Cork University Maternity Hospital’s Neonatal Unit.

Remembering Clarissa, Rebecca previously told the Irish Examiner: “She was very excited about her cows and her dogs, very happy to just be a part of the world.

“She was so determined; anything she set her mind to, she could have accomplished.

“There’s no moment that Clarissa’s loss is not in the back of my heart.

When you lose a child, a piece of your heart is just gone forever.

"But nobody can take her memories away from me. No one can take away the joy that she gave me.

“She has made me realise that nothing is certain and that life is short and fragile. 

"We only get so many precious moments and they need to be enjoyed for the delicacies that they are with the people you love.”

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