Vigil for Matthew Healy told death of six-year-old boy is an ‘unspeakable tragedy’

Garda investigation continues after body of six-year-old senior infants pupil discovered in car near Dunmore East, Co Waterford, on Friday night, with woman subsequently arrested

The loss of a six-year-old who was found dead in a car in Co Waterford on Friday is an “unspeakable tragedy” that has shattered the lives of his family, a vigil for the schoolboy has heard.

Fr PJ Breen, who led the vigil for Matthew Healy at St Nicholas’ Church in Faithlegg, Co Waterford, on Monday night, told a packed congregation that Friday’s tragedy “reminds us of the fragility of life”.

Matthew, a senior infants pupil at Faithlegg National School, was discovered in a car shortly after midnight on Friday at Rathmoylan Cove, a remote inlet on the Waterford coastline close to Dunmore East. A woman (30s) was arrested at the scene and continues to be held for questioning.

“I have no doubt that over the last few days, those of you with young children have held them that little bit closer. Such a tragedy reminds us of the fragility of life,” Fr Breen said from the altar on Monday night.


He told the congregation that Matthew’s death was a reminder to “look out for one another, no matter the age, no matter what outward appearances might suggest”.

“It reminds us to take nothing for granted, and to thank God for every new day.”

Fr Breen noted that there was much speculation around the case: “It serves no purpose and won’t change anything.”

“At this time, the best we can do for Matthew, the best we can do for his family, for his friends, indeed for ourselves, is to place our trust in God,” he said.

“An innocent life has ended all too soon. The lives of Matthew’s parents and grandparents have been shattered, and scarred in a way they cannot comprehend.”

Fr Breen also paid tribute to those who responded to the tragedy at Rathmoylan Cove, and the staff and support services at Faithlegg National School.

At the vigil, schoolchildren - some still wearing the green-and-yellow uniform of Faithlegg National School - were invited to bring flowers, daffodils and tulips to the altar “to remember Matthew”.

Other members of the school community led the congregation in prayers of the faithful, praying for Matthew, his family, and his friends and classmates.

Meanwhile, the woman arrested by gardaí in the early hours of Friday morning has been undergoing medical treatment since she was brought into custody. The Garda investigation into the death of Matthew has continued since then, with a property in Co Waterford searched and technically examined over the weekend.

The vehicle the deceased boy was found in, and which gardaí believe the arrested woman was also in, has undergone technical examination in recent days.

Gardaí were on Monday night awaiting clearance from medical staff to begin interviewing the woman, who was detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984. When her period of questioning starts, investigating gardaí will have 24 hours to interview her, at the expiry of which she must be charged or released without charge.

While waiting for clearance to interview the woman, gardaí have been investigating her background, including her mental and physical health history, as well as Matthew’s last movements, in a bid to find any evidence that may inform their probe into how the boy died.

Matthew’s funeral is set to take place in Watergrasshill in Co Cork on Wednesday. The boy’s remains willrepose at his home on Tuesday, with a requiem Mass scheduled for noon on Wednesday at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Watergrasshill.

The funeral Mass will be followed by a private service at the Island Crematorium, Ringaskiddy. Family flowers only are requested, with donations to be directed to the Make a Wish Foundation if desired.

James Healy, the father of the child, said he was hugely appreciative of the vigils organised for Matthew in a statement released to the Irish Examiner.

“Matthew’s father, James Healy, expresses his deep gratitude for the several vigils that were held for his son Matthew throughout Waterford. He would ask at this sad time for privacy,” it read.

Around 200 people attended a vigil at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity on Barronstrand Street in Waterford city on Saturday.

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Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher is an Irish Times journalist

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times