Two small fishing rods that were never used were carried sadly to the altar.
In their mind’s eye and out of deepest sorrow, the mourners could see them – the two little children who “happily ran and laughed” down by the water in their rubber boots.
One rod was awkwardly gripped in a chunky baby’s fist, the other in the hand of his older sister, who was more adept and, with careful guidance, was winding the reel.
A first fishing trip on the tranquil lochs of Westmeath on a golden autumn day both ordinary and infinitely precious, filled with laughter and wonder.
A day they were never allowed to spend together.
A few short penciled lines before summer vacation read: “I’m Thelma. i am five i have a teddy bear I am happy’
Mourners mourners gathered in their hundreds at St Mel’s Cathedral in Longford to say goodbye to Mikey (2) and Thelma (5) Dennany, who were buried together in a double white coffin.
The siblings died tragically on September 9 when the car they were traveling in with their mother, Lynn Egar, was found ablaze by a passing motorist.
Profoundly poignant in her luminous primary depictions of familiar childhood favorites were the special flowers – of Scoop the yellow digger, from the cartoon Bob the Builder for Mikey and a unicorn for Thelma.
Father Sean Casey, Rev. of Killoe, Co Longford, who had baptized the brethren, was the principal celebrant for their funeral Mass, along with Bishop Pat Storey – Bishop of Meath and Kildare of the Church of Ireland – and Father Tom Healy – Diocesan Administrator, Ardagh & Clonmacnois – concelebrate with some other clergy.
Father Casey prayed for the children’s grieving parents, Michael and Lynn, their siblings Eddie and Katelyn, their grandparents Mary and Herbert, and all their extended friends and family, and he said the congregation came to try “to give to the family help and comfort them”.
The main mourners were the children’s father Michael Dennany, their teenage brothers and sisters Eddie and Katelyn, their grandparents and extended family.
There were also children and teachers from Waddlers and Toddlers Nursery School in Rathowen, Co Westmeath, where Mikey had been cared for; from St Cremin’s National School, Multyfarnham, where Thelma had looked after older children. Also in attendance were students from Wilson’s Hospital Secondary School, where Eddie and Katelyn are enrolled.
Among the gifts brought to the altar was a colorful drawing Mikey made in preschool along with a small photo of him presented by his teacher Niamh Anderson.
Thelma’s teacher Joan Hickson brought as a gift a collage of Thelma’s paints, including a hedgehog and a squirrel. A few short lines written in blue pencil by the little girl before the summer holidays read: “I am Thelma. i am five i have a teddy bear I am happy.”
The two unused fishing rods were also brought to the altar. The children were “excited and looking forward to trying them out on the lochs and rivers of Co Westmeath,” said P. Casey.
They loved to run and laugh and feel the wind in their hair… They now explore the highways and byways of heaven together
“They loved the water. They loved the sea,” he said, adding that they recently went on a family vacation.
The children’s lives were “tragically cut short in the full bloom and promise of childhood,” he said.
“We don’t know how these tragedies happened or what happened on that lonely road on Friday,” Fr. Casey said.
“All we know is that they were, and still are, deeply loved by their parents, their aunts and uncles, their relatives and friends.”
He said they had their “last overnight stay” at their grandmother’s house on Tuesday before being taken to their family home in Rathowen on Wednesday “where they had such wonderful happy times with their mother and father and their siblings”.
They had loved to doodle and paint and were very talented and lively.
“In the words of her father, Michael, the only thing that separated them was school, as they went their separate ways every morning,” Father Casey said.
“Thelma took dance classes and soccer practice – Mikey would always come over to watch her practice from the sidelines.
“Last Saturday week he ventured onto the pitch for the first time to play the sport she loved with her.
“They loved to run and laugh and feel the wind in their hair and pick wild flowers. They were excited to try their fishing rods. They are now exploring the highways and byways of heaven together.”
He said the siblings would remain “forever young” in the hearts of their parents, brothers and sisters.
“Today we remnant trudge through the valley of darkness. At a later date we hope to stumble lightly through fresh and green pastures,” he said.
Fr. Healy then expressed “sincere condolences” to the families on behalf of the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of these two young, beautiful children,” he said.
“The photos of their smiling faces speak to us of two bundles of joy who were loved and cherished and who undoubtedly brought vibrancy and joy to the lives of their families and friends.”
“We know your loss is very deep,” he added, addressing the family.
A short message was read aloud from the grieving families, expressing their heartfelt thanks to those who had supported them during “this time of heartbreak”.
“We want to thank everyone for helping us say goodbye to Thelma and Mikey,” they said.
“We use ‘farewell’ because they will be with us forever with the memories they left us with through their short lives and their infectious smiles.
“Your sincere condolences and offers of help have touched us deeply at this very difficult time. Thanks again to everyone.”
Before the end of the service, the mourners formed a long line to sympathize with the heartbroken family, hugging them warmly and whispering words of condolence and comfort, with many weeping.
Almost an hour later, the remains of Thelma and Mikey were gently carried out of the cathedral for burial at the family plot in Cullyfad Cemetery, while soloist Eimear Reynolds sang amid harrowing sadness and sadness somewhere Over the Rainbow.
https://www.independent.ie/news/we-dont-know-what-happened-on-that-lonely-road-on-friday-we-only-know-thelma-and-mikey-were-deeply-and-are-deeply-loved-41992791.html “We don’t know what happened on that lonely road on Friday. All we know is that Thelma and Mikey were deeply loved – and are deeply loved.