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'OUR FAMILY'S THREE BRIGHT LIGHTS WENT OUT ON XMAS MORNING' -Sharon's brother Davey yesterday; FIRE VICTIMS LAID TO REST: Hundreds mourn tragic death of mum and daughters.

Byline: BY DARA de FAOITE

THE brother of murdered Sharon Whelan told how life "will never be the same again" as she was laid to rest with her daughters yesterday.

Hundreds gathered to say goodbye to Zsara, seven, and two-year-old Nadia who died in a fire at their home with Sharon, who Gardai now believe may have been murdered.

Davey Whelan told mourners who paid their last respects at the funeral of the 30-year-old mum and her two daughters: "Three of the brightest lights in our family went out on Christmas morning.

"These lights went out and our family's lives will never be the same again.

"Sharon was a wonderful mother to her two girls and they never wanted for anything.

"It wasn't an easy life for Sharon trying to raise the two girls as a single mother but she did a fantastic job and the support and love she got from her family kept her going.

"Our mother and father looked on those girls as their own and their lives were made all the more richer with them around every day.

"It's so hard to try and make sense of this. I don't think we ever can.

"When Zsara, Nadia and Sharon left us they took a huge part of us with them.

"Although these three bright lights have gone they will shine brighter than ever where they are now and even more so in the hearts of our family forever."

Local parish priest Fr Martin Cleere told the congregation: "There are no words on an occasion like this. At this time of year we celebrate light coming into the darkness of the world.

"All we have to do is look at the news and see how dark the world is and we ask where can we find light?"

The bodies of Sharon, Zsara and Nadia were all taken from Sharon's blazing cottage inWindgap, Co Kilkenny, at 9am on Christmas morning. They were all discovered in their beds to the rear of the house.

A major Gard a investigation was launched after postmortem results showed there was no smoke in Sharon's lungs and there were ligature marks on her neck.

Smoke was found in the lungs of Nadia and Zsara indicating they died as a result of the fire. Gardai are now investigating the possibility that Sharon was strangled before fire swept through their isolated farmhouse.

Her brother yesterday also thanked the emergency services and neighbours for trying to save their lives.

He said: "I don't think I can find the words to thank you enough."

Bishop of Ossory, Mgr Seamus Freeman, conveyed the sympathies and condolences of the diocese to the Whelan family "on the very tragic death of a young mother and her precious children".

He added: "All of us are called to go beyond the tragedy and to transform the sadness of now into an ongoing commitment to good, peace and truth wherever we are."

Gardai are continuing to examine the scene at Windgap and have appealed to the public for their help throughout the investigation.

CAPTION(S):

ANGUISH Sharon's mother Nancy Whelan, left, is comforted by a relative; SORROWFUL Sharon's body is carried by her brothers and uncles; SAD Nicky Brennan; BLEAK SIGHT Three bodies are buried; RESPECT Members of Windgap GAA Club; MURDER INVESTIGATION Sharon Whelan and daughters Zsara and Nadia who were found dead on Christmas Day; HEARTBREAKING Small coffins of Nadia and Zsara carried to church in Kilkenny yesterday Pictures: DYLAN VAUGHAN
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 2, 2009
Words:580
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