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22nd Mar 2022

Mother granted permission to exhume daughter’s remains in Cork

Rebecca Saunders has been appealing to have her daughter’s remains exhumed.

A mother has been granted permission to exhume her daughter’s remains in Cork and bury her in the States.

Rebecca Saunders was granted permission to exhume the remains of her three-year-old daughter Clarissa today, and bring her back to her native country.

Clarissa was drowned by her father Martin McCarthy in Cork in 2013. He later died by suicide.

“Today I was granted the licence to exhume Clarissa. After nine years I will be able to take Rissa home,” Saunders said on Twitter.

“This has been a really long time coming. It’s a day for celebration. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has helped to shape this in to reality. You’ve no idea what this means to me and May family.”

Saunders told the Claire Byrne Show in 2021 that at the time of her daughter’s passing, she thought she wanted Clarissa to be buried with her father. Later, she decided to appeal the decision and have Clarissa exhumed.

“I just remember always wanting to be by her side and wanting to crawl into that coffin with her,” she said at the time.

“It was brought up by somebody else, I did not think of it myself. I did not want to think of how I would bury my own daughter, but I thought to myself at the time that I could not handle the thought of having my daughter cremated that time.

“If she had a choice, if she could make a choice in this decision whether she was going to be by herself or whether she wanted to be with somebody, I just felt like she would not want to be alone […] even though he did what he did, as she would still love him.”

Saunders moved to west Cork in 2004 for a study abroad programme. She met and married McCarthy, and they later welcomed their daughter.

Saunders now lives in Houston, Texas.