TWO fatal road collisions, which happened within days of each other, have left the community of East Clare reeling.
The incidents, which claimed the lives of a two men, have also prompted an appeal from Gardaí for vigilance on the part of all road users, particularly in bad winter weather.
Last Saturday night, Billy Hickey, a man in his 80s died in an incident on Main Street, Mountshannon, shortly before 8pm. Warm tributes were paid by those who knew him.
Senator Timmy Dooley, a Mountshannon native, extended his sympathies to Mr Hickey’s family.
“I’ve known Billy all my life,” he said. “The entire community is just shocked at his untimely passing. He was a kind and friendly gentleman and deeply rooted in the area, even though he was a native of Tipperary.
“His wife is from Scariff and the community is in shock there too. His grandchildren are part of the GAA community and well known, particularly in Clare camogie.
“Billy was a wonderful family man and a great community man and all of our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time. He was such a tall, imposing character and you would never expect something like this to happen. The community is numbed.”
Councillor Pat Burke also knew Mr Hickey and said the communities of Whitegate, Mountshannon and Scariff are deeply affected by the tragedy.
“We were shocked to hear of a bad accident on Saturday evening,” he said. “Then, when we heard that Billy had died, the community was simply numb with shock to think that he would lose his life in this way.”
Councillor Burke outlined that Mr Hickey had been a Garda, a plumber and a publican over the course of his working life.
“He was a man of many talents and skills and ran a very successful and popular pub, at one time, along with this wife, Eva” he said. “He was a Garda at one stage and a plumber and very well known and popular.”
A native of Rathclogheen, Golden, Mr Hickey remained close to his Tipperary roots. “There was always great banter and he never forgot his native county,” Councillor Burke said.
“His granddaughters Greta and Aideen are very involved in camogie and Billy would have been on the road regularly taking them to training. He was such a kind and patient man and I extend the sympathy of the entire community to his family.”
The incident happened within days of another fatal crash on the same road, the R352. Last Thursday, November 3, a man in his 50s was killed when his car was in collision with a truck at around 2pm, close to the village of Clooney. The man was named as Philip Atkinson of Garrynatineel, Ballina, County Tipperary.
Cathaoirleach of the Killaloe Municipal District, Councillor Alan O’Callaghan extended his sympathies to the families of both men.
“It is very sad and so tragic that we have two grieving families and communities in mourning, and our condolences go to them at what is a very, very sad time,” he said.
Gardaí in Ennis are continuing to investigate both collisions and are appealing for witnesses or anyone with dashcam footage.
In relation to the Mounsthannon incident, Gardaí are appealing for anyone with CCTV footage, who may not yet have come forward, to contact them.
“We would like to make a general appeal to all road users,” said Superintendent John Galvin.
“The time has changed and the weather has changed. We are asking all road users to take care. If you’re a motorcyclist, a walker or a jogger, you need to make sure you’re seen. These incidents are just horrendous. To have two lives cut short like this is absolutely tragic.”
Anyone with information on either collision is asked to contact Ennis Garda Station on 065-684 8100, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800-666111, or any Garda Station.
Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald.
Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti.
She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at The University of Galway.
If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 065 6864146.