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Six arrested after man slashed with hook at Claremorris funeral

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Funeral attacks shock Claremorris


Six arrested after man attacked with slash-hook

Michael Commins

A MASSIVE brawl erupted in the grounds of St Colman’s Church, Claremorris yesterday morning (Monday) during the funeral ceremony for Patrick Collins of Luí na Gréine in the town.
Six people were arrested during the disturbances and Garda reinforcements were called in from as far away as Galway. One man who was struck across the head with a slash-hook was rushed to Mayo General Hospital with serious injuries. He is understood to be from County Donegal.
Fr Peter Gannon was just commencing his homily when he became aware of the growing din and commotion outside the church. He stopped the ceremony and many in the congregation, aware of the ructions developing in the church foreground, rushed to the doors.
At this stage, Fr Peter informed the congregation that, out of respect for Patrick (known to many in the travelling community as Padraig), the doors should be closed and no dispute should be furthered within the walls of the church.
Many in the congregation adhered to the request and the rest of the celebration of Requiem Mass proceeded in normal fashion.
Such was the intensity of the feud outside that large rocks and stones, together with slash-hooks, knives and hammers, were all part of the row that spilled out onto the public footpath. Some of the large rocks were still visible yesterday evening behind the cordoned-off area.
Mourners exiting from the church were greeted with an array of garda cars and ambulances. Evidence of the scale of the fighting and confrontation was all around. “It wasn’t for cutting briars that the slash-hooks were in use,” said one onlooker.
The funeral proceeded to Knock where another major stand-off took place between the Gardai and the travellers. Cars and vans were stopped in the middle of the village beside The Thatch Bar and diverted in the school road where Gardaí carried out major searches of the vehicles, recovering a number of instruments in the process.
After negotiations, the horse drawn carriage was allowed to proceed on past the old church and down to the roundabout. On the way back, the coffin was taken from the carriage and carried shoulder-high past the church and to the local cemetery where Fr Peter Gannon officiated at the graveside prayers.
Patrick’s family had connections with Kiltimagh in the old days. His father Packie was a well-known horse dealer and was well liked around Kiltimagh.
The family moved to Claremorris several years ago. Patrick (61) was widely known throughout the family circle and he always took an interest in gaelic football. His sudden death came as a shock to all who knew him. He is survived by his brothers and sisters and the extended family circle.
Gardaí last night were continuing their investigations and files were being prepared for the Director of Prosecutions in relations to the incident which took place in Claremorris.