‘Lisa, Christy and Chelsea, forever young’: Funeral hears of deep love between three siblings killed in Tallaght

Surviving brother, Michael, praised for his bravery in raising the alarm as events unfolded

Lisa Cash (18) adored her brother and sister Christy and Chelsea Cawley, their funeral mass was told on Friday morning.

The twins, who were eight, were always by her side, and on the rare occasions they weren’t, she talked about them constantly, one of three friends who addressed the congregation on Friday morning said through heartbroken sobs.

“Lisa, my heart is completely broke. Make sure and keep them safe up there. They were your whole life. You were always off with them and when you weren’t, you would never stop talking about them.”

Lisa’s friends remembered how she was “the mommy of the group” and how they all had “so much plans for the future, but at least we had the memories we made together”.

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“I love you forever, Lisa,” said one friend.

“Lisa, Christy and Chelsea, forever young,” said another.

The siblings died after an alleged stabbing at their home in nearby Rossfield Avenue late on Saturday night.

The courage of their surviving brother, 14-year-old Michael, was praised by Fr Paul O’Driscoll, parish priest of the Travelling community and celebrant at the funeral Mass of the three siblings. “Mikey, your bravery and strength to raise the alarm, to go and get help is an inspiration to courage and love.”

Michael was among the mourners, as was their mother, ‘Twink’ Margaret, their sister, also Margaret, who had returned from Australia, as well as their brother-in-law Michael and nephew, baby David.

“Great suffering and great love are the two universal paths of transformation,” Fr O Driscoll told mourners. “When the unexpected happens during a communal crisis, we are not alone.”

Everyone had the same question, he said. “How could this be happening?”

From shortly after 9am, they came in their hundreds, lining Brookfield Road under leaden skies, some small children clutching a single yellow carnation. Teenagers assembled in the grounds of St Aidan’s church wearing t-shirts reading “our three angels”. A few held bunches of pink carnations, others silver heart shaped balloons to be released by the graveside.

Outside the entrance to the church stood a photograph of the family, taken on holidays in happier times and surrounded by a frame of white flowers. “Back with our Daddy,” it read.

Billy Cawley, the father of the twins, and Lisa’s father Andy Cash both died before their children.

Motorcyclists were assembling outside the church, ready to form part of the cortège that would accompany Lisa, Chelsea and Christy to their final resting place. Young Christy loved bikes, one man said.

Inside the church, three pristine white coffins lined up in front of the altar, two of them unfathomably small.

As the aides de camp for both the President and Taoiseach, along with a Garda superintendent for the Tallaght area took their seats, a man in a grey suit approached the altar.

He stood before the coffin of Chelsea and straightened the photograph of the child in her communion dress, placing a gentle kiss on it with his fingertips. This small gesture seemed to hold within it the heartbreak of an entire community.

Before the Mass began, the children’s mother came and silently lay her head on each of the three coffins in turn, as relatives placed a supportive hand on her back.

The offertory gifts included a collection of the music and books of Elvis, “because Lisa really enjoyed his music” and a book about the driving test. In memory of Christy there was a football and football gloves and for Chelsea there was a teddy bear.

“We’re trying to find comfort. We’re trying to build some kind of stability in this pain,” mourners were told.

A message was read out to the congregation by Archbishop of Dublin, Dermot Farrell. “It is difficult to find words to express our shock at the tragedy that has befallen the Cash and Cawley families in recent days,” he said. “May you be consoled in these pain-filled days and may those around you be a source of shelter and strength in the weeks and months to come.”

Behind the altar a large artwork of a tree, each leaf individually coloured, served as a reminder of the twins’ young age. “In memory of our friends Christy Chelsea and Lisa from all the children at St Aidan’s SNS”, the message read from the senior national school to which they had only just moved up from the junior school.

The coffins left the church to the song, If I can dream by Elvis and Celine Dion.

Outside three white carriages were waiting, each pulled by a pair of white horses and covered in lilies.

The slow, sad procession left the church shortly after 11am, accompanied by the cortège of motorbikes, sports cars, new SUVs and a replica Lightning McQueen car from the film, Cars. The children’s relatives walked behind each carriage, their hands aloft and palms pressed against the glass.

The loud revving and fumes of the motorbikes offered a sharp contrast to a grief which could not be put into words.

Andrew Cash (24), a brother of the three siblings, was charged with their murder on Monday. He replied “no comment”.

Jennifer O'Connell

Jennifer O'Connell

Jennifer O’Connell is a feature writer and opinion columnist with The Irish Times