The young man killed by his father and brother in a dispute over land in north Cork was the greatest son that any mother could ever have, a close friend of the deceased told mourners at his funeral Mass this afternoon.
Several hundred mourners gathered to sympathise with Anne O’Sullivan (60) on the death of her son, Mark (26) in the murder suicide which also claimed the lives of her husband, Tadg (59) and younger son, Diarmuid (23) at their family farm at Raheen, Kanturk, on Monday.
Just a small number of relatives and friends joined Ms O’Sullivan inside the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Kanturk this afternoon but up to 300 people gathered outside to hear Canon Toby Bluitt say the funeral Mass for the University of Limerick law graduate.
And they heard a friend of his from UL, Sharmilla Rahman, read a tribute in which she reflected on what a marvellous son Mark had been to his mother and a great friend he had been to her ever since they met at First Year in UL.
“Mark and I were best friends. I would like to express my deepest condolences to Anne and the rest of the family. Mark was the greatest son a mother could have and I know the bond between them was unbreakable. He had such a big heart and so much love to give as a friend. I know that but I can’t begin to imagine how much effort and love he put into being Anne’s son,” she said.
Appeal from the altar
Canon Toby Bluitt told mourners at the funeral Mass he wanted them to keep Mark’s mother, Anne O’Sullivan and her extended family, in their prayers as they attempted to comprehend his death and the death of his father, Tadg (59) and brother, Diarmuid (23), who were buried on Friday.
Gardaí believe that Mark O’Sullivan (26) died after being shot by his father and younger brother early on Monday in a dispute over who would inherit their 115 acre farm at Raheen in Kanturk and that Mr O’Sullivan snr and Diarmuid then shot themselves on the farm in a suicide pact.
On Saturday Canon Bluitt, who also said the funeral Mass for Mr O’Sullivan snr and Diarmuid at St Mary’s Church in Castlemagner, welcomed Ms O’Sullivan and a small group of relatives and friends to the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Kanturk.
“Grief is never an easy burden to bear – and never more so when it comes to us in what can only be described as an untimely, shocking and tragic way. We gather in such grief today, carrying a burden that not only seems to be, but in fact is overwhelming.
“We gather to comfort and support each other in our common loss. We gather to make sense of the senseless. We join with Bishop William Crean [of the Diocese of Cloyne] in offering our deepest sympathies to Anne, relatives and extended family.
“We ask you to keep them in your prayers as they endeavour to navigate this path of unexpected loss and anguish,” said Canon Bluitt who was joined in concelebrating the mass by curate, Fr John Magner who gave the last rites to all three men and ministered to Ms O’Sullivan after the shootings.
Canon Bluitt, who is parish priest of Kanturk, Lismire and Castlemagner, said he would reiterate the words of his homily at the funeral Mass of Tadg and Diarmuid O’Sullivan because “the reality of this heart-breaking loss has not changed.”
“The shock, the numbness, the devastation, was impossible to imagine and the unfolding news of the loss of three lives was incomprehensible . . . Just like all of you, I too am struggling to make sense of this.”
He told mourners all three men were created in God’s image and all three were loved equally by God who knows that human beings are not perfect and can see through the mistaken actions that people can sometimes make.
Canon Bluitt then spoke about Mark, reminding mourners that, like his younger brother, Diarmuid, he too had attended primary school in Ballyhass and secondary school in Kanturk and socialised in Castlemagner.
“He studied law at the University of Limerick (UL), graduating in 2017. He was a trainee solicitor preparing to complete his final exams. UL paid tribute to him this week and underlined the shock felt within the UL community where Mark was highly thought of,” he said.
Gathered in sadness
Canon Bluitt said as people gathered in grief and sadness and struggled to cope with the enormity of the tragedy visited upon the O’Sullivan family, no one was seeking to minimise the loss of their three lives by trying to provide “easy answers because there are no answers”.
Canon Bluitt said Anne O’Sullivan and the community of Castlemagner were not without hope and he reminded mourners that God’s first attribute was mercy and that “the name of God is mercy”.
After the funeral Mass, Ms O’Sullivan, who is seriously ill, was helped from the church as she followed Mark’s coffin before it was placed in a hearse to begin its final journey to St Patrick’s Cemetery in Castlemagner to be buried beside her parents, Timothy and Mary Cronin.