Woman never got over twin’s death in Carrickmines fire, funeral told

‘We will never forget you’: Funeral of mother of two Amanda Gilbert takes place in Bray

Outside St Peter’s Church, Bray Co Wicklow on Monday.Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Outside St Peter’s Church, Bray Co Wicklow on Monday.Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

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Amanda Gilbert (29), who took her own life last week, never got over the death of her twin sister Tara in a fire in at a halting site in Carrickmines, Co Dublin in three years ago, her funeral Mass heard on Monday.

Fr Larry Behan, chief celebrant at the funeral in St Peter’s Church, Bray, said Amanda and Tara had had a “very, very special and unique bond”.

“We know that Amanda, as many of us, was truly devastated when we learnt of the tragedy that was the Carrickmines fire . . . As Amanda herself said at that time, ‘I’ve lost the other half of me’.”

Ms Gilbert, a mother of two young children Savanah and Callum, died in the early hours of Friday morning. She is survived also by her partner, Ryan Odlum and her father Harry.

Her twin, Tara (27) died in October 2015 while staying with friends at a temporary halting site. Tara was pregnant at the time and engaged to Willy Lynch (25) who also died in the fire along with Tara’s daughter Jodie (9) and the couple’s daughter Kelsey (4).

Willy’s sister Sylvia Connors (30) and her husband Thomas Connors (27) also died along with three of their children Jim (5), Christy (3) and six month-old Mary. Sylvia’s and Willy’s older brother Jimmy (39) also died.

Fr Behan said he had often met Amanda at her sister’s family grave in Springfield cemetery in Bray. “She was a very frequent visitor. She’d be tidying up and talking quietly to them . . . She did her best to dedicate her life completely to Ryan and Savanah and Callum. She had a huge impact on their lives and Savanah especially idolised her,” he said.

“But I think it’s fair to say that Amanda never really began the process of starting to get over Tara’s death and the death of all the others.

“Thankfully, whatever immense pain she was feeling is now over and she is at peace. Whatever any of us here this morning might be feeling – anger at God, anger at Amanda, guilt, bewilderment, whatever - we need God to help us start to be able to deal with it.

“None of us here in the church this morning will ever know the depth of pain and desperation that drove Amanda to do something so extreme . . . or to understand the burden of pain that Amanda lived and died with.”

The small church, in Little Bray, was full with many mourners upstairs in the gallery and standing. Among them was John Lynch, father of Tara’s partner Willy, Sylvia (nee Lynch)and Jimmy. He embraced Harry Gilbert, whose only children were Amanda and Tara, as the bereaved father arrived at the church.

Amanda’s partner, Ryan, thanked everyone there “who was part of Amanda’s life”.

“Amanda, there are no words to describe how I am feeling,” he said. “I want you to know that myself and the kids loved you very much and I promise I’ll do my best for them no matter what.

“You were such a kind, loving person who spent every moment of every day making sure were happy. We will never forget you. I will never forget the good times we had together. I just hope that you are at peace now.”

The music, chosen by Ryan, was sung by Nicole Brown accompanied by Rob Greene on guitar and included the songs How Long Will I Love You?, Be Not Afraid and Jealous of the Angels which was also sung at Tara’s funeral.

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