The preschool, which attended one of the two siblings who died in a car fire in Co Westmeath on Friday, has paid tribute to the “beautiful, happy and fun-loving little girl”.
Brother and sister Michael, 2, and Thelma, 5, died from injuries sustained when the car they were traveling in with their mother Lynn Egar crashed down a secluded road on the outskirts of town around 4pm last Friday was found ablaze by Multyfarnham.
A passing truck driver rescued Ms Egar from the car and she sustained serious injuries which are believed not to be life-threatening. She remains in a Dublin hospital.
Gardaí continue to investigate all circumstances surrounding the fire and have completed a forensic search at the scene of the fire and also at the remote farmhouse where the family lived 12km away outside the town of Rathowen.
In a statement Monday, the staff and children at the Children of Lir preschool expressed “our sincere condolences to the family on the tragic loss of Thelma and Michael.”
“Thelma had attended our ECCE program and she was a beautiful, happy and fun-loving little girl who will be sorely missed by all of us,” the preschool said. “We will miss them very much.”
Meanwhile, the elementary school that Thelma attended also placed a memorial table on its doorstep today in honor of the innocent victims of the fire.
A candlelight vigil was held in Multyfarnham last night, attended by hundreds of people who remembered the little brother and sister.
The congregation met at the Children of Lir Montessori and Preschool, which Michael had just attended this month before going to St. Cremin’s National School, where Thelma was a senior.
At the school this morning, the principal and staff set up a memorial table with candles surrounding photos of Michael and Thelma. Well-wishers left messages of condolence along with teddy bears and other tributes for the children.
In a statement, Headmaster Karl Dermody said they were devastated to learn of the sudden death of a loved one in the school community.
“Thelma will be remembered by classmates and teachers as a warm, happy and vibrant member of St Cremin’s National School,” said Mr. Dermody.
“We extend our sincere condolences to friends and family as they cope with this tragic loss of life.”
“As a school, our priority will be to take every step to ensure the needs of our students and their families are met during this challenging time.”
“We will support students and school staff as they navigate this tragedy. Psychologists from the National Educational Psychological Services have supported us at our school and supported staff and parents,” she added.
A growing number of teddy bears, toys, flowers and candles were placed by local people at the fire site on the secluded road outside of town.
Local Franciscan priest Father John O’Brien said that “a deep sadness hangs like a cloud” over the congregation.
“There’s this feeling of being dazed and confused until we say how we’re going to deal with it?” he told RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland. “The sense of unreality that we are facing a terrible tragedy. The sense of unreality, did it really happen and suddenly we realize yes it happened – the two young children are dead. So there is an overwhelming sense of sadness, disbelief and not being able to find the words yet to put it.
“The other thing people are doing right now is just meeting informally. Moms talk and worry about their kids going to school tomorrow, how will they face the news? It’s going to be tough for the teachers and very tough for the little ones who are confronted with this terrible sense of sadness and loss. That’s really where the healing begins.”
He added: “We don’t have a wand to wave that takes away the tears, we just have to sit and be with someone and if there are tears we let them flow. It’s a lonely time for everyone.”
Father O’Brien said he was driving home on Friday night when a Garda car passed him and he “knew by the speed something was wrong”.
“Then the next day helicopters flew, people came and went, roads closed, guards everywhere in the fields. It felt like, from a very quiet place, it was suddenly a deeply tragic place, a deeply lonely place,” the priest said.
Father O’Brien said he spoke to a woman whose son was a friend of one of the children who died and she asked, “How are we going to tell him this, how are we going to help him with that?”
“Because it’s going to be very difficult for a five-year-old to take that on board. As adults we find it hard, but as a young child, the sense of loss can be devastating,” he added.
“She’s not the only mother, she represents a lot of mothers at the moment.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/beautiful-happy-and-fun-loving-teddies-and-candles-as-schools-mourn-loss-of-siblings-who-died-in-westmeath-car-fire-41981884.html ‘Beautiful, happy and fun-loving’ – teddy bears and candles as schools mourn siblings killed in Westmeath car fire