Relatives rally round to comfort mother after husband and daughter drown

Fri, Mar 8, 2013, 00:00

Relatives were last night rallying around a grieving young mother as she mourned the death of her three-year-old daughter and husband in what gardaí have described as a “tragic incident” in west Cork earlier this week.

Rebecca McCarthy (25) lost her daughter Clarissa and her husband Martin (50) when they drowned at Audley Cove near their home in Ballydehob on Tuesday night, with gardaí later confirming they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.

Locals yesterday spoke of the great sense of shock as details emerged of how Mr McCarthy had left a note saying “Gone to heaven” for his wife while she was visiting friends on Tuesday evening.

The remains of Mr McCarthy and his daughter were last night lying in repose at the family home at Foilnamuck some 5km from Ballydehob where American-born Ms McCarthy was being comforted by relatives and friends.

Flew in

Ms McCarthy’s mother, Linda Bailey, and her aunt flew in from their home in Los Angeles to be with her following the tragedy which local councillor, Dermot Sheehan said had “numbed” the entire community on the Mizen Peninsula.

Mr McCarthy and his daughter, the couple’s only child, will be brought to St Mary’s Church in Schull today for prayers at 12.30pm to be followed by a funeral Mass at 2pm and they will be laid to rest afterwards at nearby Schull Cemetery.

Mutual friend

Ms McCarthy met Mr McCarthy when, just 16, she came to Ireland on a trip to experience Irish life after her parents made contact through a mutual friend with Mark and Terri O’Mahony of Ballydehob.

Ms McCarthy, then Rebecca Bailey Cejnar, stayed with the O’Mahonys at their home at Cappanglass in Ballydehob, adjacent to Mr McCarthy’s farm and she went to Schull Community College for three months.

As part of her transition year studies there, she expressed an interest in working on an Irish farm and the O’Mahonys arranged for her do a two-week placement with their neighbour, Mr McCarthy who was living on his own following the death of his parents some years earlier.

It is understood that Ms McCarthy struck up a friendship with Mr McCarthy and continued visiting him at the farm after she had completed her placement, and although she returned to her home in Los Angeles later that year, she kept in contact with him.

She returned two years later when she turned 18 and moved in with the farmer a year later in 2006.

When she was 19 she married him at a small wedding ceremony attended by close family and friends.

On Tuesday night Ms McCarthy became concerned about her husband and daughter when she returned from visiting friends at 8pm.

Contacted locals

Before Mr McCarthy’s note was found by a friend, Ms McCarthy had contacted locals who began searching the farm without success before gardaí were notified at about 11pm and a more organised search was mounted. Clarissa’s body was found lying near the shore of Audley Cove at about 1.30am by the Goleen Coast Guard, while friends comforted Ms McCarthy who was nearby when the discovery was made.

Baltimore RNLI Lifeboat recovered Mr McCarthy’s body some 200m offshore.

Described as “a hard-working farmer” who regularly worked 15-16 hours a day, Mr McCarthy had leased land in Goleen and Schull, where he kept dry cattle, while he kept a dairy herd at the family farm at Foilnamuck.