THE tragic mum who lost her entire family in a horrific murder-double suicide “died before her time” but accepted her fate in her battle against a terminal illness with dignity and courage, mourners at her funeral Mass heard today.
Former nurse Anne O’Sullivan, 60, was the only member of her family to survive the murder-double suicide in October last year.
Her oldest son Mark was shot to death by her husband Tadg and younger son Diarmuid, who then went out to a field at their farm in Assolas near Kanturk and took their own lives.
They followed Anne into the farmyard where she was fleeing in an effort to get help and told her they were leaving her alive so she could suffer the torment of what she had done in leaving the 115-acre farm to Mark in her will on October 26 last.
Anne died on Wednesday morning at a hospice following a long illness.
Her funeral was held at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Kanturk, Co Cork, this afternoon – the same church where she bid a final farewell to son Mark at his funeral last year.
Tadg and Diarmuid’s funeral was held at Castlemagner a day before Mark’s following the shocking tragedy last year.
Paying tribute to Anne at her funeral, chief celebrant Father Toby Bluitt referred to the terrible tragedy which shocked the nation and said: “I know that we are conscious of the fact that Anne’s untimely passing was not the only tragedy in her life.
“We here in our community are well aware of the recent painful and tragic loss that Anne suffered – a tragedy that affected us all.
“We acknowledge the fact; we recognise a wider context for our grief today.
“We know that there are other clouds behind the landscape of our sorrow.
“We note this but it is not for us to pass comment or judgement. We simply acknowledge the fact. Anne lost her battle against her illness.
“She died, as we might say, before her time.
“As was characteristic of her she accepted her fate with dignity and courage but lost out in the end. And that is what brings us here this afternoon.”
‘TRAGEDY CAN CHANGE OUR LIVES’
In his homily, the Parish Priest continued: “I suppose in an ideal world we would like to think of ourselves as living long and happy lives with friends and family to support us to the end.
“It would seem like a great gift from life to be thus blessed, to go to our forebears fulfilled and content that our work was done, that we had played our part in life’s great rotation and that our own cycle had come to an end. We had no more to do.
“Like I said, in an ideal world. We don’t live in an ideal world, that’s the problem.
“Illness can come and challenge us and defeat us.
“Tragedy, and serious tragedy, can come and haunt us and change our lives irreparably.
“The clouds that can, and do, settle over our lives sometimes rob us of fulfilment and peace, of an ordered and easy existence.
“They bring a darkness into our lives that we feel cannot be shaken. We feel helpless and, even perhaps, afraid.”
He continued: “Darkness came into Anne’s life when she lost her family in very sad and tragic circumstances, and when she lost her battle with the illness she had fought so courageously.
“The fact is that when someone dies there is this great sense of emptiness, this enormous sense of loss.
“And we have an added sadness, I think, that for Anne, for one family, life didn’t work out the way it might have. So, that we are in fact troubled, we are at a loss.”
Speaking about Anne, he said: “A nurse by profession, Anne brought an attitude of care and concern towards those who were entrusted to her.
“Now she herself has found care, the care of a loving Father who has brought her to Himself to care for her, to look after her, to love her for all eternity.
“Living quietly an ordinary life in her own home she always knew through her faith in God that she had another home too, one not made with human hands but real nevertheless, more real in fact, because this was a home that would be her home forever, forever and always.
“I read somewhere that the Hindu people refer to death as the quenching of a lamp because dawn has come. Anne’s death was just like that.
“It was the silent blowing out of a candle flame, and now, Anne knows, in a way that we do not, why she doesn’t need that light of a flame to lead her anymore.
“For Anne, the dawn of a new eternal day has come and this is a day that will never end.
“It will always be bright, always be light. A place where there is no more weeping, no more tears.
“It’s springtime. The days are getting longer, life is springing up all around us in the budding of leaves and in the singing of the birds.
“There is hope in nature, there is hope in the world, there is hope for Anne as for us all. We Christians are people of hope.
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“Whatever sadness there may have been, whatever darkness may have overshadowed us we remember the words of Saint Paul: Nothing can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.
“Anne has been caught up in that same love of God and is at peace in his embrace. May she rest in that peace. Amen.”
The Mass was broadcast online in accordance with Covid-19 regulations and was attended at the Church by close family members only.