Father of two killed after horse falls in trials tragedy
A rider died in a tragic accident when his horse somersaulted and fell on him at a hunter trials in the midlands.
Restaurant owner Cathal O'Malley (45) was critically injured yesterday afternoon and died a short time later at Tullamore hospital.
His wife Fiona King gave birth to their second son, Gavan, two weeks ago.
The couple also have a four-year-old son, Darragh, and they run the Old Barracks restaurant in Athenry.
The couple opened the restaurant in October 2010.
Mr O'Malley, originally from Ballinasloe, was an experienced rider who hunted with the Galway Blazers. He was taking part in the last event of the day at Annaharvey farm in Tullamore, Co Offaly, when the accident happened.
Colm O'Brennan, honorary secretary of the Brosna Foxhounds, which ran the event, said Mr O'Malley was a late entry for the event as he had taken part in the previous event.
"We are in total shock. We are really dreadfully sorry that such a catastrophe has happened on a wonderful course.
"Nothing of that nature has ever happened before. That particular jump is just a log and it has been there for 10 or 12 years," added Mr O'Brennan.
"It looks like the horse clipped the jump and seemed to somersault and landed on top of him. The Order of Malta were on the scene within a minute. He was taken to the regional hospital, which is only five minutes away." Mr O'Brennan said he did not know Mr O'Malley personally but had spoken to him just before the event because he was a late entry.
"I just had a quick word with him and another chap double checked he had his safety jacket on. He was very pleasant."
Stephanie McDonagh, honorary secretary of the Galway Blazers, said Mr O'Malley was "a good friend, a great guy, a gentleman.
"He was very, very popular. He was just a great all-rounder."
More than 150 riders took part in the Hunter Trials yesterday.
The couple's restaurant building was bought by Fiona's father Charlie King of Bawnmore, Athenry, with the prize money he won as the owner of the horse Afford A King, which won the Digital Galway Plate in 1988.
Riding accidents have claimed several lives in recent years. Last year Colin Guinan (25) from Banagher, Co Offaly lost his life when he suffered head injuries in a fall from his horse near his home.
Fatal accidents at event riding however are rare. British- born Karen Rodgers (41) was killed in a fall while taking part in a one-day event at Ballindenisk in Co Cork during Easter 2008.
The accident took place at the penultimate fence on the course, the second water complex. Ms Rodgers was an experienced and successful rider who had been involved in equestrian sport for 10 years.