Community joins Curtis family in grief at funerals of five road accident victims


Three generations of the Curtis family were joined in their grieving by more than 1,500 people on Saturday at the funerals of five family members who died after a traffic accident last Tuesday.

The arrival of the five white coffins at St John the Baptist Church in Nobber, Co Meath, reduced many mourners to tears.

The coffins contained the bodies of Mrs Catherine Curtis (nee Winters), her 10-year-old son Wayne, her five-year old daughter Shauna, the children's aunt, Jamie and their cousin Garry, both aged 14.

They were all passengers in a car when it collided with a tanker at Swann's Cross in Co Monaghan. Jamie, Garry and Shauna died shortly afterwards and on Thursday, Catherine and Wayne died from their injuries. The only passengers who survived were Mr Thomas Curtis, husband of Catherine, and the couple's three-month-old daughter, Chloe.

The Bishop of Meath, Dr Michael Smith, presided over Requiem Mass at which the chief concelebrant was the parish priest of Nobber, Father Seamus Houlihan.

Addressing the mourners and particularly the grief-stricken families, Father Houlihan said: "We are all broken-hearted at this time, but Lord we know we are in your care."

The homily was given by Father Finian Connaughton, from the neighbouring parish of Drumconrath where some of the Curtis family live.

Father Connaughton said: "The burden of grief and weight of loss is way beyond our normal powers of comprehension. The death of any child is always disturbing, defying explanation. This week as a community we have been to Calvary, we have seen the blows, the scars, the agony and the suffering, the young life drained away.

"We come here with slow step and heavy heart, each with their own question, begging answers, answers that somehow seem to be withheld, at the moment anyway."

He said it was important to the Curtis and Winters families that the community had come to the funeral, "that you have chosen to share their Gethsemane, they do appreciate your anxiety to shoulder the weight of some of their pain, however impossible that may be".

Prayers of the faithful were said for the emergency services, gardai, doctors and nurses; the community; those who died and those they left behind.

A letter of condolence from the President, Mrs McAleese, was read out in which she said: "It is impossible for any of us to make sense of such a cruel loss as the death of children and a young mother. There is no worse pain than this and I know it will take immense strength and courage for those left behind to live with this grief."

The involvement of the whole community in the preparation for the funerals reflected its solidarity with the family.

Schoolchildren and former classmates of the children formed a guard of honour as the cortege arrived.

Among the mourners were Dail and local authority representatives as well as singer Mary Duff, who has a long association with the village.