Relatives of family which lost three generations prepare for funerals


The three generations of the one family who died in the "tragedy within the tragedy" of the Omagh massacre will be buried this week in the Tyrone villages of Beragh and Clogher.

Mrs Mary Grimes, the Cork-born grandmother who married a Tyrone farmer nearly four decades ago, will be given a funeral service in Beragh tomorrow , while her daughter, Mrs Avril Monaghan, and Avril's 18-month old baby, Maura, will be buried this morning several miles south in the historic cemetery of St MacCartan's in Clogher.

Avril moved to Clogher when she married a carpenter, Michael Monaghan, in a ceremony performed by her uncle, Father James Grimes. This week Father Grimes will be the chief celebrant at both family funerals.

Had Omagh not happened and the twins they were expecting been born next month, the Monaghans would have had six children under the age of seven. Father Lawrence Dawson, the parish priest in Clogher, would probably have baptised the new babies, as he did her other children. Instead he will be assisting at the funeral.

At the Monaghan home yesterday, children's toys in the garden and the full clothesline of a young family belied the awful events that had visited the occupants. Representatives of the world's media discreetly noted the house, but in most cases passed by, directing all questions instead to the local parish priest.

Happy to shield the family, Father Dawson fielded endless phone calls and requests for interviews, helping the press with the names of the surviving children, Aoibheann, Patrick and Eilise, and praising the family's fidelity to the church.

"They were at Mass the morning she was killed," he said. "Avril was a woman who expressed her faith; and faith, belief in the resurrection, is the only way a family can come to terms with something like this."

In Beragh, Father Arthur McAnerney was performing a similar role yesterday, telling and retelling stories like how two Ahern sisters, the late Mary and her sister, Joan. had come from Cork to marry two Grimes brothers some 40 years ago. "In fact, I think they were both working as nurses in Scotland and were here on holidays when they met the brothers."

From their well-kept farmhouse on the edge of the village, the Grimes family were and are pillars of the Beragh community, according to Father McAnerney. "Mick and Mary were daily Mass-goers. Mick is a founder member of the local youth club. For years, he used to publish a parish newsletter called Link, which included news and gossip from both sides of the community. The name was a symbol of the cross-community readership he was aiming for with it."

Father McAnerney expects this cross-community spirit to be reflected at the funeral. Indeed, among his own many duties over the last two days has been a visit to the home of Veda Short, a local Presbyterian woman who died in the bomb. He was also preparing to attend a meeting of all the area's church leaders last night to discuss what could be done in the wake of the tragedy.