By Michelle Devane, PA
Mourners at a funeral mass for two children who died in a car fire in Co Westmeath have heard the siblings were “inseparable in life” and would now explore the “highways and byways of heaven” together.
Five-year-old Thelma Dennany and her two-year old brother Mikey Dennany died after a blaze in a car on a rural road at Lacken, Multyfarnham.
Hundreds of people attended the funeral at St Mel’s Cathedral in Longford, ahead of the children’s burial in Cullyfad Cemetery.
One white coffin bearing both the children’s bodies lay at the top of the church as prayers were said for the youngsters’ “heartbroken” parents Micheal and Lynn and their brother and sister Eddie and Katelyn, as well as extended family and friends.
Father Sean Casey, parish priest of Killoe, Co Longford, told those gathered that Thelma and Mikey were “vibrant” children.
He described Thelma, who was a pupil at Saint Cremin’s National School in Multyfarnham, as a “lovely girl, always smiling”.
He said her little brother Mikey was enrolled in Toddlers and Waddlers pre-school in Rathowen and that they loved to explore together.
Symbols of their lives were brought to the altar, including artwork and a collage from Thelma’s primary school, artwork by Mikey at his pre-school and their fishing rods.
During the homily, Father Casey said the children’s lives had been “tragically cut short”.
“We gather to thank God for the gift of their lives – lives so tragically cut short in the full bloom and promise of childhood,” he said.
“We pray for the comfort and consolation of their grieving parents Michael and Lynn, and for their brother and sister Eddie and Katelyn, all of whom are weighed down by sorrow.
“We remember their heartbroken grandparents Mary and Herbert, their aunts, uncles, relatives and friends at this time of trauma and distress.”
Father Casey said there was a “special place in our hearts” for the children’s friends in pre-school and school, as well as their minders and teachers.
“Thelma and Mikey were vibrant children,” he told mourners.
“They were inseparable in life. In the words of their dad, Michael, the only thing that separated them was school as they went their separate ways each morning.
“Thelma attended dancing classes and football training – Mikey always came to watch her training from the sideline.
“On Saturday week last, he ventured onto the pitch for the first time to join her in the sport she loved.
“They loved to run and laugh and feel the wind in their hair and to pick wild flowers.
“They looked forward to trying out their fishing rods.”
He added that they were now “together exploring the highways and byways of heaven”.
He also told those gathered: “We do not know how these tragedies occurred, we do know they were deeply loved.”
Father Casey also read a message from the family, which said: “We the family would like to thank everyone for helping us to say farewell to Thelma and Mikey.
“We say farewell because with the memories they left us through their short lives and their infectious smiles, they will be with us forever.
“Your heartfelt sympathy and offers of help have touched us greatly at this very difficult time.
“Once again, we thank you all.”
A criminal investigation into the children’s deaths has been launched by gardai.