Priest tells mourners of mother and children travelling culture will be support

Mourners at the funerals of pregnant mother Annmarie O'Brien, daughter Paris and Holly and Jordan O'Brien who died in a fire arriving at St Anne's Church, Shankill, Dublin.
Mourners at the funerals of pregnant mother Annmarie O'Brien, daughter Paris and Holly and Jordan O'Brien who died in a fire arriving at St Anne's Church, Shankill, Dublin.

Travelling culture and traditions will stand by those mourning the deaths of a pregnant mother, her daughter and the toddler's two cousins in a fire, a priest has said.

Annmarie O'Brien, 27, had already named unborn baby AJ when she perished beside her two-year-old daughter Hannah Paris in an apartment in Clondalkin, Dublin last Wednesday.

Mourners arrive for the funerals of pregnant mother Annmarie O'Brien, daughter Paris and Holly and Jordan O'Brien who died in a fire arriving at St Anne's Church, Shankill, Dublin

Mourners arrive for the funerals of pregnant mother Annmarie O'Brien, daughter Paris and Holly and Jordan O'Brien who died in a fire arriving at St Anne's Church, Shankill, Dublin

The toddler's cousins Holly, aged three, and Jordan, aged four, also died.

Their mother Biddy O'Brien, who is gravely ill in hospital after being rescued, had brought her children to visit Annmarie in the Cluainin Cronan apartments which houses women who have escaped domestic violence and crisis.

Hundreds of mourners packed St Anne's in Shankill, Co Dublin, for the funeral Mass, with floral tributes, balloons, photos and teddies adorning the church as the coffins sat below the altar.

Parish priest Fr John O'Connor said no words of his could soften the blow of the tragedy.

The funeral cortege for the funerals of pregnant mother Annmarie O'Brien, daughter Paris and Holly and Jordan O'Brien who died in a fire arriving at St Anne's Church, Shankill, Dublin

The funeral cortege for the funerals of pregnant mother Annmarie O'Brien, daughter Paris and Holly and Jordan O'Brien who died in a fire arriving at St Anne's Church, Shankill, Dublin

"Without doubt you are God's toughest soldiers and you can be sure you are not alone in the battle of life," he said.

"Now you have five more angels in heaven to accompany you and bare the cross."

Fr O'Connor said Annmarie, unborn baby AJ and the youngsters, Hannah Paris, Jordan and Holly will always be with their parents, siblings, friends and loved ones.

And, with the parish priest to travellers Fr Paul O'Driscoll alongside him, he spoke of the unique bonds and practices of the community.

"As travellers you are also part of a very strong and noble tradition and your culture will stand by you and give you strength and courage in these difficult times," Fr O'Connor said.

Among the mourners was Sean Patel, Annmarie's partner, and Jamie McGinn, Jordan and Holly's father.

Fr O'Connor spoke about how the tragedy has devastated Jamie.

"He told me how much Jordan and Holly loved their mammy and how much she loved them," he said.

"Jamie is obviously deeply upset by the death of his beautiful children but he is happy that they are together with God, that they are not alone. That's very important to him.

"He wants his children to know that he will look after their mammy.

Fr O'Connor described their mother Biddy as a strong and intelligent woman.

"She now needs the love and support of us as never before and I know that you won't let her down," he said.

Fr O'Driscoll read a letter at the end of the mass.

"Dear Annmarie, Hannah Paris, AJ. Dear Jordan, Holly.

"When you joined our family our hearts were so full of happiness that there was no room in us for words.

"As you were growing our hearts were so full of care for you that we spoke soothingly, sometimes sharply, fearful for your safety, but always in the deepest places of our hearts we spoke lovingly.

"We marvelled at all you did and became.

"There's a place within us that's yours and yours always.

"For the light you brought to us, for the special gift you will ever be, thank you."

Relatives of those who died in the Carrickmines fire disaster on a traveller site in October 2015 also attended the funeral as did Colonel Michael Kiernan, President Michael D Higgins' aide de camp.