Father and son among five killed in road carnage
A FATHER who was killed along with his only son in a weekend road crash had just dropped the son's girlfriend off at the airport.
John Gallagher (55) and his son Sean (24), from Castle Street, Ramelton, Co Donegal, were returning from Derry City Airport on Saturday morning when their car was in a head-on collision with an oncoming car.
Five people, including the two men and a pedestrian, died on the country's roads at the weekend and another man was seriously injured as weather conditions worsened.
The deaths brought to 15 the number of victims killed in road accidents so far this year.
A pedestrian died last night after being struck by a car in Co Longford.
It is understood the man was walking on the Mohill Road outside Drumlish, around 10 miles from Longford town, when he was struck by a vehicle shortly after 7pm.
Gardai have begun an investigation into the accident.
In Co Donegal, Mr Gallagher and his son crashed at around 10.10am on the Slab Road junction at Burt, on a dangerous stretch of the N13 Letterkenny to Derry road.
Driving conditions at the time were treacherous and there had been an earlier snowfall. Both men were pronounced dead at the scene.
The 59-year-old female driver of the other car was removed to Letterkenny General Hospital, where she is being treated for non life-threatening injuries.
Post-mortem examinations were carried out yesterday on both bodies at Letterkenny General Hospital and they were released to their family later in the day.
The dead men are being mourned by John's wife Hillary, daughters Aisling (22), Aoife (18) and Eilish (14) and a wide circle of relatives in Ramelton and on Arranmore Island, John's native place.
Sean's girlfriend, Lauren Proctor, who is from England but whose father also hailed from Arranmore, had been visiting him in Ramelton, but was due to return to college.
Because Sean didn't drive, John had driven them to the airport on Saturday morning for a London flight. She learned of the tragedy on her arrival.
Friends and neighbours in Ramelton struggled to come to terms with the tragic loss of two of its most popular local residents. "The whole town is hurting," summed up one local shopkeeper.
John, a skilled painter and decorator, was known for his countless, quiet acts of kindness for neighbours and friends.
He was chairman of the local Community Centre and Lennon Festival committees and worked tirelessly with the town's youth.
His son Sean, who had recently returned to education, was studying sports and recreation at a local college and teaching PE to children in the local primary school.
Both men had a long-time involvement with the local pantomime society. "John was a very committed community worker and a brilliant neighbour. He was so quiet and unassuming but he gave so much to the town," said Jean Winston, secretary of the Pantomime Society.
"Ramelton has lost a great community spirited person," she added.
Supt William Johnston said that the car in which the men were travelling had just come out of a slight bend when the collision happened.
The crash was one of three to occur on Saturday. At around 8.20am, a 26-year-old man died in a single-vehicle crash on the M7 in Co Laois.
The accident occurred at the Killenard/Mountmellick exit, which is 15 miles north of Portaloise.
Another separate crash, at around 3.30am on Saturday, left a man in his 20s critically ill in hospital in Tralee, Co Kerry.
On Friday a 60-year-old pedestrian died of his injuries after being struck by a car in the village of Carrigart in Co Donegal. The victim, Billy Boyce, from Tullagh, Carrigart, died in the ambulance on the way to hospital at 7.40pm.
The occupants of the car were uninjured in the tragedy.
The victim had recently returned to live in Carrigart after years away working in Scotland.
Meanwhile, a motorist had a miraculous escape last night after his car collided with two cows on a dark stretch of one of the country's busiest roads.
The crash occurred at around 6.30pm on the main N18 Galway to Ennis road at Carheeny More, about 7km south of Gort.
Fire crews had to use specialist cutting equipment to extricate the injured driver from his vehicle.
The man was treated at the scene before being rushed to Galway University Hospital but it is believed his injuries are not life-threatening.