A LIMERICK teacher who taught the youngest victim of the Boston bombings – eight-year-old Martin Richard – has returned home this week after the horrific attacks in Boston.
Mary Swanton, who has lived in America for 26 years, and is a daughter of the well-known Redemptorists volunteer Theresa Delaney, recalled the shock of the attacks this week.
Mary, a music director at Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy in Boston, taught eight-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed in the bombings on Monday, April 15, at the finish-line of the Boston marathon.
Martin, who was in third grade, had returned to the finish-line after getting an ice-cream when the bombs went off. His father Bill suffered shrapnel injuries to his leg; his mother Denise, whose parents hail from Kerry, has undergone surgery for her injuries, and the victim’s sister Jane, aged 6, lost a leg in the attacks.
Mary said the family who live in the Dorchester neighbourhood are “a lovely family, very nice ordinary people who give a lot to the community and are very involved.” Martin was a past pupil in the academy, which is for pre-kindergarten children through to the eighth grade, while she also taught his older brother Henry in a tin-whistle class, and said Jane “loved Irish dancing”.
“I live in that area and they’re a very well known family. There was a candle-light vigil for them, and the turnout for them was amazing. It’s awful what has happened to them; this has literally ripped them apart.”
Mary was in a shopping centre when she heard the news about the bombings at the finish line. “I’ll never forget it. The whole place just fell silent, it was very scary.” On their website, the school said they are continuing to pray for all affected by the tragedy, and is offering information on their site on ‘helping children cope’ and ‘why bad things happen’.
Meanwhile, a Limerickman who lived next door to one of the suspects behind the Boston bombings expressed surprise at being caught up in dramatic events.
Peter Hanley, 31, from Garryspillane, was speaking live on CNN early last Friday morning after being ordered to evacuate his home as the policehunt for the one surviving suspect intensified. “He’s not a guy I recognise from our street,” Peter told the reporter with CNN about one of the alleged bombers. “It’s a great little neighbourhood, a friendly place..” he said to camera.
One of the alleged Boston bombers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, lived just five doors away from him in an apartment in 410 Norfolk Street, Cambridge, which went into lockdown after the suspect went on the run following the shooting of his brother Tamerlan.
“I got a knock on the door and a quick call to get out. My three housemates and I grabbed what we could. I think one of the flatmates is around here somewhere in his pyjamas. It’s a little too close to home,” he told the reporter.
Less than a week on, Peter was at a loss to recall what exactly he said on live TV. He has returned to his office this week, but is still reeling from the attacks.
“It was a bizarre occurrence in a week of bizarre events,” the 31 year-old software engineer, told the Limerick Leader. “You never expect something like this to happen in your own city. It has been a traumatic week for the entire city. Today is the first morning we haven’t had any reporters outside the house,” he said.
Peter didn’t want to relay the dramatic events which unfolded after the marathon bombings on Monday, April 15, to his parents Kevin and Margaret-Anne back in Limerick.
However, he soon received a text message from his mother, saying: “I just saw you there on CNN.”
Peter has lived in Boston since 2006, after moving from Galway where he worked with the same company in financial services, and on Norfolk Street for the past four years.