Friday 20 October 2017

'Goodbye our fantastical friend' - Two Irishmen killed in car accident in Canada

'A much loved father and brother' - Tributes pour in for much-loved Cathal Murphy

Cathal Murphy (inset) died in tragic car accident
Cathal Murphy (inset) died in tragic car accident

Greg Harkin, Amy Molloy and Catherine Devine

Tributes have been paid to two Irish men who died when their car crashed into a creek in Canada.

Mechanic Raymond McCann, (42), and Cathal Murphy, (33), died when their car left the road just outside the town of Melita in the Canadian province of Manitoba during a national weekend Thanksgiving holiday.

Both men were from Co Cork – Mr McCann from Kanturk and Mr Murphy was from Bandon.

The car in which they were travelling was found overturned at the side of a road west of Melita on Saturday morning.

Tonight the family of Mr. McCann issued a short statement.

“The family of Raymond McCann are devastated at the death of a much loved father and brother in a road traffic accident in Canada on Saturday 8 October.

Cathal Murphy (33) from Bandon, Co Cork
Cathal Murphy (33) from Bandon, Co Cork

“We are very thankful for all the support shown to us at this difficult time. We would ask, however, that the media would now respect our privacy as we try to come to terms with our loss.

“We will not be making any further public comment," they said.

Cathal, a former member of the fire service, was one of four brothers. The eldest, James, has flown to Canada to bring Cathal home to Bandon.

He played soccer for Bandon, Cork City and was capped for Ireland at youth level.

“He was just a great lad with a great personality who just loved to travel,” said Cllr Rachel McCarthy.

“We are the same age so I’ve known Cathal for years. When he was home he would always pop over for a chat about life, about politics and about Bandon and Cork. He kept in touch wherever he was.

“He was a superb soccer player, and known for that. We had a great sporting occasion at the weekend when Bandon won the intermediate county hurling title and then there was this loss of Cathal hanging over the town.

“Cathal was just a great lad, bubbly, bright, full of life and his death has devastated his family and the community here.”

She said he will be "sorely missed".

“It is just absolutely tragic. The worst news that any family could get.

"Our thoughts are with them, especially his mother and father, Christina and Paddy, and his three brothers, James, Patrick and Raymond.

“He was a great guy. A great personality. A very happy person and he will be sorely missed.”

Paul Bowdren, currently U-17 manager for Cork City, coached Cathal when he played U-18.

"He was a bit of a character, always chirpy," he told Independent.ie.

"He would come into training and be very happy-go-lucky, but he was also serious about his soccer.

"He would travel up from Bandon to Cork City two or three times a week to train and play.

"He was quite good, played as a defender and at the time his teammate would have been Damien Delaney who now plays at Crystal Palace. He was part of a very good team." 

Family friend and local poet Brian O'Driscoll wrote a poem in tribute to him entitled 'The Impression Maker'.

In it, he wrote: "Just settle say when we can be heroes like you.

"Goodbye our fantastical friend.

"For you reminded us all for one last time that you meant more than most people could have ever fully fathomed.

"And now we can only get to go where we go to best reinvest - by these trusted reimaginings of you - the forever wanderer.

"A man's true worth has to solely lie with just how incredibly much he will be unforgettably missed.

"God bless and good speed."

The community in Kanturk has also been left devastated by the double deaths.

Mr McCann had only travelled to Canada for work a month ago.

Cllr Bernard Moynihan, chair of the municipal district, said: “People are numb at the death of Ray and the whole community is thinking of his family at the moment.

“Obviously arrangements are underway to bring Ray home to Kanturk. It is just a very very sad incident and devastating for his family and all who knew him.”

There were dozens of tributes on social media last night to Mr McCann.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating the cause of the crash which came as the country celebrated an extended weekend holiday. Yesterday was Thanksgiving in Canada.

Local people say the road where the crash happened is dangerous – a bridge over a creek was washed away in floods and it was likely the Irish men didn’t know about a diversion.

Riddell Morrison, who runs a car repair business in the town, said it appeared the men crashed their car on Friday night but weren’t found until Saturday.

“This happened about a mile and a half out of town,” he said.

“There’s a part of the road where a bridge was washed away three or four years ago and a temporary dirt road with metal culverts now by-passes the creek and where the bridge used to be.

“The speed limit on that road is 90km/hr but just before this diversion it slows to 30km/hr and it’s possible they just went straight into the creek where the bridge used to be, straight into a gulley.

“It looks like that happened on Friday and the two gentlemen weren’t found until Saturday. It’s very very sad.”

While road traffic collisions are not unusual, fatal crashes in the area are quite rare.

Roy Thorne who runs a motel in the town said: “Everyone is so sorry to hear what happened to the two Irish men and it’s difficult to know what happened but there are wild deer and perhaps they swerved to avoid them, that has happened before on that road.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs says it has offered assistance to the families of the dead men.

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