Mayo couple’s deaths ‘shattering’ for community, funeral told

News of Kitty and Tom Fitzgerald ‘left us speechless and empty like orphans’, priest says

Kitty Fitzgerald’s coffin is carried  followed by her husband Tom’s coffin. Photograph: Paul Mealey

Kitty Fitzgerald’s coffin is carried followed by her husband Tom’s coffin. Photograph: Paul Mealey

 

The deaths of Kitty and Tom Fitzgerald was a “shattering experience for the community in which they lived and were treasured,” their funeral mass in Co Mayo has been told.

The couple was found dead in their Co Mayo home in a suspected murder/suicide last week .

In his homily, Fr Martin O’Connor parish priest of Kilvine (Ballindine/Irishtown), said silence fell across the parish when news of the deaths broke.

“It was one of those moments in life when we remember exactly where we were and so the news left us speechless and empty like orphans looking for a hand to hold or a voice to tell us all will be well.

“The circumstances and nature of their going seems to empty the future of happiness and meaning”, Fr O’Connor told an overflow congregation in the Church of the Holy Family and St Oliver on Monday. “Nothing, I expect, will ever be quite the same again,” he said.

Fr O’Connor said the tragic nature of the deaths and the injuries sustained by the couple’s son, Paul Fitzgerald, should not lead them to forget the “goodness of their lives and the contributions they made to our parish and wider community.”

“We all have special memories of Kitty and Tom and these memories are now the bridge between heaven and earth, memories that will connect us to them in the future, memories of their love, their wholesomeness and their generosity,” he said.

Fr O’Connor called for prayers for Paul that he may recover from his injuries. He said he heard that Paul is stable in hospital and he hoped his recovery continues.

The results of postmortem examinations on the couple’s bodies indicate murder/suicide. Although there has been no official statement by gardai on the findings of the double autopsy, it is understood they rule out the couple’s son Paul as a suspect.

Paul was discovered with serious head injuries at the family home in Knockadoon, Irishtown, close to the Mayo/Galway border, at about 3pm on Tuesday. The remains of his father Tom (75) lay in the farmyard area, while those of his mother Kitty (72) were inside the house.

There were eight concelebrants of the Mass, all friends of the bereaved Fitzgerald and Coughlan families.

Photos of the dead couple were atop each of the oak coffins as they stood before the altar.

At the outset, Fr O’Connor welcomed Kitty’s sisters, Bunty and Breda, and other Coughlan family members as well as her husband’s family which included his brothers, John Joe, Frank and Vincent.

“Our hearts go out to you in your grief,” Fr O’Connor told the bereaved families. “We all gather with heavy hearts as we bid farewell to two cherished members of our parish community”.