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Community numbed and family shattered by three road deaths, funeral hears

A community has been left numbed and a family shattered by losing three members in a road crash, a priest has told their funeral in Co Tipperary.

The funeral has taken place at St John the Baptist church in Cashel of Tom and Bridget Reilly and their three-year-old grandson Tom, who died in the single vehicle incident on Tuesday.

The tragedy occurred just days after four young people lost their lives in a separate crash in Clonmel, also in Tipperary.

Father Enda Brady said road deaths were not just numbers, and behind every statistic there is a face, a personality and an individual.

Irish president Michael D Higgins was among the mourners and Father Brady said the support he had given people in Tipperary in the past week “will never be forgotten”.

Cashel car crash victims funerals
President Michael D Higgins arrives for the funerals at St John the Baptist Church in Cashel, Co Tipperary (Niall Carson/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was represented at the funeral by aide de camp Commandant Claire Mortimer.

Three-year-old Tom’s mother Diane, who was also injured in the crash, attended the service wearing a black t-shirt featuring a photograph of her son.

A number of other mourners also wore t-shirts featuring photographs of the victims.

The remains of the three family members were brought to the church in horse-drawn carriages with their photographs draped over the horses, before the white coffins were brought to the front of the church.

Welcoming mourners, Father Brady said: “Sadness is when we have one coffin and a grieving family in the church.

“Today’s gathering of three coffins, which includes the remains of a three-year-old, have left a family shattered, a community numbed and people grappling for words.”

Delivering his homily, Father Brady said road death statistics are produced every year.

He added: “When we hear these, our reaction can be a moment where we say ‘God bless them’, and then move on with our daily lives.

“But when this awful situation lands on your doorstep, then you know these are not just numbers, there is a face, there is a heart, there is a personality, there is an individual.

“Unfortunately, Tom and Bridget Reilly, and their grandson Tom, have joined the number for this year.

“But we don’t gather here today to remember them as a number.”

Cashel car crash victims funerals
Diane Reilly, arrives for the funerals at St John the Baptist Church in Cashel, Co Tipperary (Niall Carson/PA)

The priest said that three-year-old Tom would be remembered throughout Ireland as a character.

He said: “Tom and Bridget’s children remember the parents who loved and cared for them and their nephew, who, in three short years, endeared himself to the family.

“Their parents, brothers and sisters, cousins and extended family remember the people that were Tom and Bridget Reilly, they remember young Tom, the character that will be remembered throughout Ireland with his thumb raised in the air.

“The way they laughed and cried, the way they interacted, the way they were, these are the traits and qualities that we remember today as we celebrate the funeral mass for a small boy and his grandparents.”

Cashel car crash victims funerals
A picture of three-year-old grandson Tom Reilly on the side of a horse-drawn carriage (Niall Carson/PA)

Members of the emergency services, including Gardai, the National Ambulance Service, the fire service and representatives of Tipperary University Hospital in Clonmel were also in attendance.

Funerals had taken place on the previous three days in Co Tipperary for the victims of a crash in Clonmel on August 25.

Luke McSweeney, 24, his 18-year-old sister Grace McSweeney and Zoey Coffey and Nicole Murphy, both also aged 18, were killed in the collision as the three teenagers prepared to celebrate getting their Leaving Cert results.