Flooding Fallout: Past tragedies help Limerick grandparents cope with recent devastating floods

Vera and Anthony O'Donnell with their beloved chihuahua, Princess, who drowned when the local canal burst its bankPicture: Liam Burke/Press 22

O’Donnells’ speak out on 1998 murder of daughter in nightclub, writes Mid-West Correspondent Jimmy Woulfe

A Limerick grandmother revealed yesterday how dark, tragic days in her past helped her through the torment of the December floods.

One of the abiding images of the floods were pictures and news reports of Vera O’Donnell cradling her pet dog, Princess, who drowned when waters gushed through Vera’s home, trapping the tiny chihuahua in the sitting room.

The death of her favourite pet dog was compounded by the loss of precious family photos.

“A lot of the photos were taken during summer holidays in Spanish Point. They included two of my nine children, Georgina and Jason, who died tragically when they were in their 20s,” said Vera.

The O’Donnells’ home was one of 14 houses at Richmond Park, Corbally, which flooded when lock gates at a nearby canal were not opened in time.

Their daughter, Georgina O’Donnell, who was murdered in anightclub in Limerick in 1998. Picture: Press 22
Their daughter, Georgina O’Donnell, who was murdered in a nightclub in Limerick in 1998. Picture: Press 22

The drying out process was completed yesterday and the humidifier, which has been in non-stop use since the flood, was finally unplugged by Vera’s husband, Anthony.

Builders will move in shortly to replace flooring at an estimated cost of €40,000.

Vera, 65, and, Anthony, 66, have remained in the house throughout the process, only going to a daughter who lives nearby for meals.

Vera said they have learned to cope with distress and bad fortune having gone through the darker days of the deaths of Georgina and Jason.

She spoke for the first time publicly about Georgina’s murder in a Limerick nightclub when she was gunned down in a case of mistaken identity, and how she prays for the killer.

Georgina O’Donnell was shot dead in a Limerick nightclub on May 3, 1998.

Jason was deeply affected by her death and died tragically, aged 22.

A gunman, Mark Cronin, mistook Georgina for another woman he wanted to target and shot her dead as she walked across the dance floor. She was just 20 at the time.

Jason, then aged 10, was deeply affected by her death and his life went into a downward spiral of depression and he died on September 2, 2010.

“Georgina worked at St John’s Hospital and after work that day, she was asked by friends to go to some do at this nightclub. Apparently she didn’t want to go. A man she did know [Mark Cronin] walked in with a gun and shot her, having mistaken Georgina for another girl,” said Vera.

“Jason was just a boy and took her death badly and never came out of it with depression, and he died at the age of 22.

“He loved his sister and I could not believe how he changed. He had been into sport at that time and became very depressed.

“I kept telling all of the children after her death that although the fellow who killed her still enjoyed his life, we had to forgive him. I go to daily Mass and even had a Mass said for her killer, and I pray that when he gets out of jail, he will be a better person when he comes out.

“My faith keeps me going, it really does. I keep up the prayers. I keep the man who killed Georgina in my prayers, despite everything that happened and what he did.”

Last night, Vera and Anthony attended a residents’ meeting where they were hoping to find out how their applications for humanitarian flood relief were progressing.

Anthony said he is annoyed that nobody has taken responsibility for the delay in opening the lock gate, which led to the flooding of the houses.

“There were only two involved in managing the lock gate, the council and Irish Waterways. It shouldn’t have happened and that bothers me. I worked for the council for 40 years and if somebody made a mistake they would say it. Somebody must be at fault.”

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Government announces plan for new group to combat  River Shannon floodingGovernment announces plan for new group to combat River Shannon flooding


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