Limerick wedding joy for family after much heartbreak

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

Bernadette Liston, daughter of Kathleen and the late Tom Liston, her new husband, Zachary Szyndlar and the wedding party in Cappagh church on

Bernadette Liston, daughter of Kathleen and the late Tom Liston, her new husband, Zachary Szyndlar and the wedding party in Cappagh church

IT was a day that any father would have wanted to experience: to walk his eldest daughter up the aisle on the day of her wedding.

But, sadly, that was not to be for Tom Liston, from Cappagh, whose daughter Bernadette married her American fiancé Zachary Szyndlar on Monday. Instead, it was Bernadette’s mother Kathleen and her grandmother Peg Madigan who accompanied her up the aisle.

But Tom’s spirit, and memories of him as father, husband, brother, friend and neighbour, were a constant throughout a day that was mercifully happy despite being tinged with sadness.  

It was a day above all in which a family demonstrated how support and faith helped them overcome tragedy.

Tom Liston died 14 years ago in a tragic accident that also claimed the life of another Good Samaritan, Niall Fitzpatrick from Broadford. The two were fatally electrocuted while moving a tower light for the wake of a neighbour’s son, 21-year-old Billy Sheahan, who died in a single-car accident on the N69.  

Tom’s 16-year-old son Robert and his brother Seamus suffered injuries on that same night in November, 2004. But just a little over two months before that, the family had suffered another tragedy when Ger Dineen, husband of Margaret Madigan and brother in law of Kathleen Liston, died in a traffic accident.

Tom Liston was just 41 when he died, leaving Kathleen to rear their three children alone: Robert, 16, Bernadette 14 and Katie, 10.

Speaking before this week’s wedding, Kathleen Liston explained how she and her sister Margaret coped with their double loss.

 “We worked together, we had three children the same. We were always together,” she said.

“The first two years were the hardest but as the years went on, it got a bit easier. It was horrendous at the beginning.”

“I have great faith in God,” she said.

Bernadette, she explained, studied business at UL and then won a bursary to do an MA at the University of Fairfield, Connecticut. It was there that Bernadette met her husband-Zachary who was also doing an MA but a year ahead. And love blossomed.  

Bernadette has remained in the US ever since and now works with a consultancy company Her new husband works in finance. 

One of the happiest aspects of Monday’s wedding was the presence of Kevin and Mary Beth Conlisk, the patrons of the Conlisk Bursary which Bernadette won. The couple took Bernadette under their wing and treated her like a daughter, Kathleen explained.

The day’s happiness was also added to by Limerick’s mighty win on Sunday.

But, Kathleen revealed, it was Zachary’s choice to have 10 bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen. “He wanted 10 men,” she said. In total, a party of 52 travelled from the US for the wedding.