THE Cork parish of Kildorrery “feels helpless” as it tries to come to terms with the tragic deaths of Marie Downey and her newborn baby, Darragh.
Marie, aged 36, was found dead in her room at Cork University Maternity Hospital on Monday morning. It is believed she suffered a medical attack, possibly due to epilepsy, while cradling Darragh, who suffered severe injuries in the incident and died late on Tuesday. Staff found the newborn baby partially underneath his mother.
Kildorrery is in mourning for the young mum, who was married to local man Kieran Downey. The couple had two other children, James and Sean, and had made the north Cork village their home.
Marie was originally from Ballyagran in Limerick, and is survived by her parents. She was an only child who worked in Novartis in Ringaskiddy.
The organisers of Kildorrery Cottage Market, scheduled to take place on Saturday, have cancelled it as a mark of respect to the Downeys and to Marie’s family.
The local Centra, which was also scheduled to have an event marking the refurbishment of the premises, has also postponed its ceremony.
Parish priest of Kildorrery, Fr Eamonn Kelleher, said the family of Marie and Darragh are being surrounded by support. He said Kieran is from the townland of Knockanevin, where the couple lived. “The whole community feels helpless. We pray that the Downeys will have the strength to get through this time but the community here will give them all the support,” said Fr Kelleher.
“It’s a very close-knit community and there is immense respect for the Downeys and I know the people there, with great sensitivity, will do everything they can.”
He added: “The thing about grief is that it is a very lonely place. Families to a very large extent have to carry that burden on their own. They are in the prayers of all here and I know that there is very practical support too from the local community out in Knockanevin.”
Fr Kelleher acknowledged there is very little people can do in the face of grief. “We are alone with it. People have a true Christian spirit and there is deep human affection. And that would be constant even when time goes by. There is terrible sadness that that cross is on the shoulders of Kieran and the Downey family,” he said.
Novartis Ringaskiddy released a statement, saying: “Marie Downey was a valued member of our team here at Novartis Ringaskiddy. Our thoughts and prayers are with Marie’s family and friends during this very difficult time. Marie will be fondly remembered here at Novartis Ringaskiddy.”
Marie Downey was originally from Ballyagran, near O’Rourke’s Cross, on the Limerick side of Charleville. Her family are well known in GAA circles in the Castletown-Ballyagran area of southwest Limerick.
A spokesperson for the South/South West Hospital Group said a full medical investigation is under way into both deaths.
Postmortem examinations have been carried out and funeral arrangements have not yet been made.
A file on the deaths will be forwarded to the Cork City Coroner’s office for an inquest to take place at a later date.