Children who died in car fire in Westmeath were deeply loved, funeral hears

Thelma and Mikey Dennany, aged five and two, did everything together, mourners told

The only thing that separated Thelma (5) and Mikey (2) Dennany in life was school “when they went their separate ways in the morning”, their funeral Mass heard on Thursday.

The siblings did everything together, Fr Sean Casey, parish priest of Killoe, Co Longford, told the hundreds of mourners at St Mel’s Cathedral in Longford. “They loved to run and laugh, feel the wind in their hair and to pick wild flowers.

“Thelma attended dancing classes and football training — Mikey always came to watch her training from the sideline. On Saturday week last he ventured on to the pitch for the first time to join her in the sport she loved,” he said.

The children died together in a car fire last Friday afternoon, which left their mother, Lynn Egar (48), seriously injured.


Ms Egar and Mikey were taken from the blazing vehicle at the scene, on the Coole to Multyfarnham road, by a driver who happened across the fire last Friday afternoon. She remains in hospital in Dublin.

On Thursday morning the children travelled together, in a single white coffin, surrounded by flowers.

Among the gifts brought to the altar was a colourful drawing created by Mikey at the Waddlers and Toddlers preschool in Rathowen, Co Westmeath, presented by his teacher, Niamh Anderson. Thelma’s senior infants teacher at St Cremin’s national school in Multyfarnham, Joan Hickson, brought a gift of a collage of Thelma’s work. Among the pieces were a colourful drawing of a squirrel and a short passage in blue pencil, dated June 9th, 2022. “I am Thelma. I am five. I got a teddy. I feel happy,” it said.

Two fishing rods, not yet used, were also brought to the altar. The children had been “excited and looking forward to trying them out on the lakes and rivers of Co Westmeath”, said Fr Casey. “They loved the water. They loved the sea.”

The mourners were led by the children’s father, Michael Dennany, their teenage brother and sister, Eddie and Katelyn, grandparents and wider family. Also there were children and teachers from Waddlers and Toddlers, from St Cremin’s national school as well as from Wilson’s Hospital secondary school which the children’s siblings attend.

Fr Casey said one could not know why “these tragedies” happened, or “what happened on that lonely road on Friday”.

What was known was that Thelma and Mikey “were deeply, and are deeply, loved by their parents, by their aunts and uncles, relatives and friends”.

He said they had had their “last sleepover” at their grandmother’s home on Tuesday, before being brought to their family home in Rathowen on Wednesday, “where they had such wonderful happy times with their mum and dad and brother and sister”.

The service, which lasted about an hour, was followed by mourners queuing to sympathise with the family. It took over an hour for all of them to file past the family. Among the most tearful were those in their Wilson’s Hospital uniforms as they stopped to hug and hold the teenage siblings of the children.

Shortly after 1pm, the remains of Thelma and Mikey were borne from the cathedral as soloist Eimear Reynolds sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow. As they were cradled into the hearse, floral tributes — one depicting a big yellow digger, the other a multicoloured unicorn — were placed beside them.

They were taken to nearby Cullyfad Cemetery for burial with their late grandfather, Austin.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times