Community left numbed following triple tragedy

Áine Fitzgerald in C


Áine Fitzgerald in C

Gardai at the house in Deerpark, Charleville where two young brothers were stabbed to death
The principal of Banogue NS says management, staff and pupils at the school are deeply shocked and saddened by the killing of twin brothers who were pupils at the school.

The principal of Banogue NS says management, staff and pupils at the school are deeply shocked and saddened by the killing of twin brothers who were pupils at the school.

The bodies of Thomas and Patrick O’Driscoll, both aged nine, were found at their family home in Charleville shortly before 5pm yesterday. They were in third class and had attended school yesterday.

“This is a terrible tragedy for the family, the school and the whole community. We are deeply saddened by this event,” said principal teacher Sheila Cagney “Our sympathy and thoughts are with the family and friends at this terrible time.”

Ms Cagney described both boys, who had been pupils for just over a year, as loving, energetic and full of fun.

She said the focus of the staff at this time was on the pupils in the school who are trying to come to terms with the loss of young friends.

“We will help the children to the best of our ability,” said Ms. Cagney. “We are receiving support from the National Education Psychological Service who will be at the school today to support staff on dealing with the tragedy.”

Meanwhile, the community of Charleville has been left “numbed” following yesterday’s tragedy.

Around an hour following the discovery of the bodies of THomas and Pattrick, a third body, that of their older brother, Jonathan O’Driscoll, 21, was discovered in Buttevant some eight miles away.

The bodies of the twin brothers remained at the house overnight and were removed this afternoon following the arrival of the Deputy State Pathologist, Dr Michael Curtis who will carry out post-mortems on the bodies at Cork University Hospital.

Gardai remain at the terracotta-coloured family home which is located less than half a mile outside the town of Charleville, in an area known as Deerpark.

A strip of garda incident scene tape stretches out across the five front pillars of the O’Driscoll home. Two gardai stand outside the front gate of the small bungalow while colleagues can be seen pacing around the backyard.

Soft toys, including a white teddy bear, sit inside one window, while a bouquet of white flowers stands in a vase inside another.

In the driveway, a statue to Our Lady stands in front of a green slide. A child’s small, red bike is lying on its side near a garden shed.

Neighbours - too devastated to speak - just shake their head at the devastating loss.

Tom and Paddy were pupils at Banogue Nation School, located some 10 miles from their home. The parents of the boys Tom and Helen O’Driscoll were shopping in Kilmallock at the time of the tragedy.

Local priest Father Tom Naughton of the Holy Cross Parish said that he is finding it hard to come to terms with the tragedy. “I find it very hard to get used to it myself as a priest,” he said this Friday morning.

He said that the children in Banogue school will be offered counselling.

“They will be made aware that they have a family that loves them close to them. Unfortunately in life you don’t always understand the depth of the human mind. But kids can grasp things a lot more than we actually give them credit for,” he said. But he said that it will take “time more than anything else to bring some sort of healing” after what has occurred.

According to local sources the twin brothers had visited a local park with their older brother after returning home from school on Thursday.

“Everything seems to have been fine, the boys were at school and then went to the park, nobody seems to know what happened that lead to such a drastic situation,” he said.

It is understood that two younger siblings, aged four and five, who had been in the house at the time of the tragedy ran next door to alert neighbours and gardaí were called.

A major manhunt swung into action in an attempt to locate an older sibling who it is understood had been left to look after the children after they came home from school.

After news of the tragedy broke, extended family and friends began to gather outside the O’Driscoll home.

There were scenes of raw emotion as women cried openly and embraced one another as they sat on the front pier of a neighbouring house. The home is one of five bungalows in a row the busy N20.

Many of those in mourning were dressed in brightly coloured T-shirts and vests having been enjoying the Indian summer temperatures on Thursday afternoon before the pall of gloom descended on the north Cork town.

The heavy Thursday evening traffic between Cork and Limerick was diverted via Kilmallock and O’Rourke’s Cross for several hours with only family, gardai, emergency services and local residents being allowed through garda checkpoints.

Commuters were initially alerted to the incident when squad cars were seen being driven at high speed through the towns of Charleville and Kilmallock.

Shortly before 6.30pm, gardaí found the body of Jonathan O’Driscoll, an older brother, near a riverbank in Buttevant.

Foul play is not suspected in Jonathan’s death.

Locals described Jonathon O’Driscoll as a “deep individual” who “had his own troubles”.

This is the second incident of this nature to occur in Charleville in recent times. It is almost two years to the day since eight-year-old Anthony Ward was smothered by his mother Diane at their home in Harrison Place in Charleville.

Gardai in Charleville are appealing for witnesses or anyone with information to contact them on 022 31450, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any Garda station.