Day at races ends in tragedy as lifelong friends die in crash
THREE friends who had spent the day at a popular racing festival were killed just a short distance from their homes when their hackney cab collided with an oncoming car.
Gardai in Newcastle West, Co Limerick, were last night attempting to identify the cause of the accident at Garryduff on the busy N21 route on Sunday night which claimed the lives of Richard Feury (37), Tommy Holmes (32) and Tommy Murphy (32).
The three friends died at the scene of the horrific crash after their hackney was involved in a collision with an oncoming car bringing four Gaelic footballers home to Abbeyfeale at about 9.10pm.
The green Toyota Serena people carrier driven by Newcastle West-based hackney driver Lar Cremin was transporting the three victims -- along with Tommy's brother, Michael Murphy jnr and Martin Kendrick -- home from the opening day of the Listowel races.
Less than three miles outside Newcastle West, the hackney was involved in a collision with a silver Opel Astra. The Astra was travelling in the direction of Abbeyfeale with Limerick senior footballer Padraig Browne one of the passengers on board.
Although investigations are still at an early stage, it is believed the two vehicles collided on a bend where the Astra careered off the road, struck a ditch and overturned.
Reports that the Astra suffered a blow-out were discounted by sources last night. Gardai have also ruled out alcohol as a contributing factor.
Paramedics, gardai and firemen who rushed to the accident site were met with horrific scenes. One emergency worker said the accident was the worst sight he had ever encountered.
All three friends who lived in the west Limerick town died at the scene while Mr Cremin was cut from the vehicle.
The two other passengers in the hackney were transferred to hospital, but subsequently released with minor injuries.
It is understood the three passengers in the Astra -- Padraig Browne, Thomas Enright and Seamus Lenihan -- and driver Joe Kelliher all emerged from the overturned car relatively unscathed.
The Abbeyfeale natives had all lined out for their senior football club -- Fr Casey's -- less than three hours previously in a county championship defeat to Monaleen at Kilmallock.
Supt Dan Flavin of Newcastle West garda station said the roads were wet at the time after intermittent rain throughout the day. Forensic scene investigators worked at the accident site throughout Sunday night/yesterday morning.
Supt Flavin appealed for anyone who may have seen either vehicle travelling on the route to contact officers on 069-20650.
The three victims were described as lifelong friends by local councillor Michael Collins.
Richard Feury lived in Daar Wood Crescent with his wife, Patricia O'Donovan and their two-year-old son, Josh. He worked as a butcher in Tom Griffin's for the past 15 years.
Tommy Holmes had his own painting/decorating business and was originally from the nearby townland of Feenagh.
Tommy Murphy hailed from Rooskeagh, on the outskirts of Newcastle West, and worked at Pallas Foods in the town.
Abbeyfeale native and Limerick county councillor Liam Galvin knew Tommy Holmes and the four survivors from the Astra.
"It is a miracle and a misfortune. I'm a personal friend of Joe Kelliher and his heart is broken after what happened. People who came across the accident cannot believe how the four lads came out of the Astra.
"Everyone is thinking of those three poor families and their friends.
"It is a tragedy and puts sport into perspective. Sometimes, there are far greater things in life," Mr Galvin said.