Community has rallied round Conor Leonard, says priest

Connie Leonard will be laid to rest in Co Fermanagh today

Connie Leonard will be laid to rest in Co Fermanagh today

The community in Fermanagh has rallied round the disabled son of murder victim Connie Leonard, ahead of her funeral today.

Conor Leonard, 30, who has Down’s syndrome, was stabbed and badly injured during the fatal attack on his mother on Monday. The attack is thought to have been carried out by her ex-partner Peadar Phair.

Peadar Phair is also deceased; it is believed he took his own life at the scene.

Parish priest Fr Lawrence Dawson said yesterday: “Conor got out of hospital this morning.

“He came to his grandfather’s house where the wake is being held. It was a sorry sight; him seeing his poor mother in the coffin.

“People are rallying round, talking to him and comforting him. It is lovely to see the goodness of God coming to him through other people.

“It will be a big challenge for the family (caring for Conor). His grandparents are very kindly people and I am sure he will not want.”

Ms Leonard will be laid to rest today after her funeral, at 11am in St Mary’s Church, Brookeborough.

Fr Dawson added: “There is sorrow and shock spread over the community.

“It is an ordinary, rural, peaceful community in Fermanagh. People are dumbfounded with this happening.”

He said locals have rallied round Connie’s family.

“The community will carry people through during a time like this, they will rally round and offer very powerful support in a time of grief,” Fr Dawson said.

“The family are highly dignified. While there is always a certain amount of grief at any funeral, this was a young woman who died a tragic and unnecessary death in the prime of her life.

“She was such a vibrant person and member of the community. She took part in church services and was involved in community life.”

Tributes for Ms Leonard have poured in from the Irish traditional music community in recent days, with touching messages from local Comhaltas organisations highlighting her talent.

That sentiment was shared by Fr Dawson, who said: “She was from a very musical family. She took part in the fleadhs regularly every year and she had taken classes in schools and private classes at night in her father’s house.

“She had an awful lot of consideration. She taught children a new language, the language of Gaelic and also the language of love as expressed through music.”

The parish priest added: “She is a tragic loss.”