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Community in mourning after Clare man’s death in holiday accident

COMMUNITIES in South-East Clare were united in mourning last weekend when news filtered through of the sudden death of young Ogonnelloe man, writes Dan Danaher.

A serving soldier, Private Gerard McMahon (24), had just returned home from a six-month tour of duty with the 63rd Infantry Group in Syria.

The death of Mr McMahon following a tragic accident while on holidays in Spain has left his heartbroken family and Ogonnelloe residents devastated.

A postmortem is expected to take place at the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Malaga.

Gerard was a skilled marksman, winning brigade and all army competitions during his military career. Described as a keen sportsman, he participated in a number of sports notably hurling, football and rugby.

At the time of writing, no definitive date was known for the arrival of the deceased’s body back to his residence in Ballyloughnane, Ogonnelloe, which is located a short distance from St Mary’s Church where it is expected a military funeral will be celebrated, later in the week.

Ogonnelloe GAA Club stated it was with profound shock and sadness that players and officials learned on Friday of the sudden passing of their young member and friend, Gerard McMahon.

The club stated their thoughts and prayers are with his parents, Pat and Carmel, his sister, Bríd, and all the McMahon family at this extremely difficult time.

The club met with the family to express their condolences and to offer their services in any way possible over the following week. It was the expressed wishes of the McMahon family that the scheduled matches over the weekend should proceed as normal.

However, as a mark of respect to Gerard and the McMahon family, there was no activity in the club grounds over the weekend, while a minute’s silence was observed before the matches last weekend.

Gerard played with Ogonnelloe at underage level from U-12 up to minor. Blessed with great hands and a burst of speed, he was regarded as a very good hurler who was sorely missed in the forwards once he left to join the army.

He won a Division Three Intermediate League Hurling medal with Ogonnelloe in 2016.

As a young boy, he attended the new national school in Ogonnelloe and went on to complete his Leaving Certificate in St Anne’s Community College.

The Defence Forces are providing a liaison officer to offer any assistance to his family during this difficult time.

Paying tribute to Private McMahon, Officer Commanding An Chéad Chathlán Coisithe 1st Infantry Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Damien Murphy said: “As Officer Commanding, and on behalf of all members of An Chéad Chathlán Coisithe and Óglaigh na hÉireann, I extend my deepest sympathies to the family, loved ones and many friends of Private Gerard McMahon.

“Ger was an integral part of 1 Cn Cois where he served with distinction both at home and overseas. He will sorely be missed by all of his friends, comrades and colleagues serving in Dún Uí Mhaoilíosa, Gaillimh. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”

The Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Seán Clancy, conveyed his deepest condolences to the McMahon family.

The Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney TD, learned of this tragic accident, and with great sadness expressed his sincere sympathy to the family.

Private Gerard McMahon joined the Defence Forces in January 2017 and completed his Recruit training in Collins Barracks, Cork as part of the 144th Recruit Platoon.

On completion of training, he was posted to B Coy, an Chéad Chathlán Coisithe 1st Infantry Battalion based in Dún Uí Mahoilíosa Barracks, Renmore, Galway. During his time in an Chead Chathlán Coisithe Gerard immersed himself in all unit activities and completed various weapons courses.

His expansive military training culminated in a deployment with his unit on overseas operations in the Middle East. Private McMahon served as a peacekeeper with the 63rd Infantry Group to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in Syria, from April to October 2021, with distinction.

Councillor Joe Cooney said the McMahon family are “devastated” and “shocked” by the sudden passing of Gerard.

He said the McMahon family are very popular and well liked in the local community, which is also struggling to come to terms with his sudden death.

He added Gerard had only recently returned from serving on a six-month tour in Syria

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