Coffin ‘dropped to floor’ in funeral fight so bad Pope ‘couldn’t have stopped’

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A mass brawl at a funeral saw the coffin of a dead woman dropped to the floor as shocked mourners were forced to defend themselves.

Teresa Ward, 84, from County Galway was being buried when the fight broke out in moment of violence that ‘not even The Pope could have stopped’.

According to the Irish Mirror, two women and five men were seriously injured.

Pillar of the community Teresa's funeral was originally meant to take place on a different day but was moved so that it would coincide with her daughter’s birthday who died of cancer nine months ago.

It also happened to coincide with another funeral in the area leading to police being on high alert from the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Martin Antony Ward, 35, had just been laid to rest and Mrs Ward was being buried when a group of men, believed to be unrelated to either family, began to attack mourners of Mrs Ward’s burial.

It is understood that the incident is connected to a local traveller feud in the area between two rival families which has escalated in recent months and was not connected to the families of the deceased.

Residents near Tuam Cemetery said they had noticed a police presence in the area from early in the morning with some becoming aware of the large operation as they dropped their children off to their minders or nursery.

Galway Beo understands that during the melee, the coffin of deceased Teresa Ward had to be put on the ground as the violence began to kick off.

A source said: "The attacks happened right away, the coffin didn't even make it into the grave and they had to drop it on the ground as the chaos unravelled."

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Galway Councillor Donagh Killilea added that the family were carrying the coffin to the grave before having to “leave the coffin down while they were getting away from the argument that they weren’t involved indirectly.”

He described how the family of Teresa Ward was forced to retreat and even defend themselves from what was happening.

Cllr Killilea said it was “very distressing for a family that is so well-liked and well thought of in this community".

Another described Teresa Ward as a “salt of the earth” kind of person while stressing she deserved a peaceful send-off for all she had done for her community.

Burial eyewitness accounts confirmed that the funeral attack lasted around 20 minutes.

They said how Fr. Pat Farragher tried in vain to calm matters, but the scene was too chaotic.

One witness added: “You could see him waving his arms appealing for calm but The Pope himself wasn’t going to calm this down."

Another eyewitness said there was “sporadic outbreaks of trouble” and within seconds the scene became "bedlam with women screaming, kids crying" with one saying, "I saw a lad running away with his jacket torn to shreds from a knife".

"It was very upsetting seeing children fleeing while still carrying their roses for their granny, they never even got to lay them down.”

Residents of Gilmartin Road, where a follow-up attack took place at a post-funeral reception for Mrs Ward, were disgusted by the events.

One resident said it was "disappointing" that Tuam would be making international news for this instead of the positives of the town.

Tuam Cemetery was busier than usual on Thursday morning with two locals saying they had called in to check on their own family graves to make sure they weren't desecrated in the middle of the destruction.

The cemetery on Athenry Road was spotless on Thursday morning just hours after the violent scenes.

Galway Beo understands that families and friends of the deceased helped tidy up the cemetery out of respect for the dead following the incident.

  • Family
  • Funerals
  • Crime
  • Knife Crime

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