Thursday 8 December 2016

'You're not alone': families remember road victims

Conor Feehan and Olivia Kelleher

Published 21/11/2016 | 02:30

Abbey O’Donnell (11) lights a candle at the memorial mass for her Uncle Wayne O’Donnell, who died in a road accident in 2002 Photo: Steve Humphreys
Abbey O’Donnell (11) lights a candle at the memorial mass for her Uncle Wayne O’Donnell, who died in a road accident in 2002 Photo: Steve Humphreys

Families who lost relatives in road accidents gathered in Dublin and Cork yesterday at special masses marking World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

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The emotional event took place in St Michan's Church on Halston Street in Dublin and was attended by members of the emergency services and the Road Safety Authority.

Fr Bryan Shortall told the congregation that 165 people had been killed on Irish roads so far this year - 32 more than the same period last year.

That figure rose to 166 within minutes as news emerged that Galway woman Cliodhna Thornton had been killed in a freak accident near Moycullen.

A total of 23,948 people have been killed on roads in the Republic of Ireland since records began in 1959.

Candle

Carmel Ridgeway, Drumcondra, holds a photograph of her grandson Ross Redmond who died in an accident 16 years ago. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Carmel Ridgeway, Drumcondra, holds a photograph of her grandson Ross Redmond who died in an accident 16 years ago. Photo: Steve Humphreys

At a candle-lighting service family members placed the name of their loved ones on a tree in front of the altar.

One woman who clutched a photograph to her heart as she lit her candle was Carmel Ridgeway, whose grandson Ross Redmond was killed by a car as he played with friends in Raheny 16 years ago.

"He was six years old and four months. A beautiful child, and friends with everyone," said Carmel, with both pride and sadness.

"He got knocked down while playing with his pals. It was as simple as that.

"He was friends with everyone. I used to mind him a lot when my daughter Fiona was at work, so we were very close. We adored him.

"I can still remember holding his hand all the time, and I'm glad I can remember that," she added.

"Events like this mass are important because it means people are not forgotten, and that's very important.

"And you are also surrounded by people who have had a similar experience to yours. You are not alone," said Carmel.

Another family who attended the mass were the O'Donnells from Finglas.

They lost their son and brother Wayne on February 17 2002.

"He was cycling home from work as an usher in Leinster House, and he was only yards from home when he was hit crossing the road," his brother Stuart explained.

Read more: All-Ireland road deaths average nearly 600 per year since records began in 1959

Wayne was 30 when the accident happened, and had been married for just over a year.

"Even though it's 14 years ago, the memory of it is still the same, and the sense of shock," said Stuart.

"It never leaves you. It's with you every day," he added.

Symbolic items brought to the altar by members of the emergency services and the Road Safety Authority included a Garda cap, a fire officer's helmet, a stethoscope, and a copy of the Rules of the Road.

Fr Shortall prayed for the families of road victims and the emergency services.

In a similar ceremony in Fermoy in Cork, a teddy bear with the name Mollie was placed on the altar in memory of an unborn baby girl who was killed when her heavily pregnant mother was involved in a crash.

Mary Enright (28),from Abbeyside, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, died in a crash about 1km from Bansha in Co Tipperary on the night of March 26, 2012.

Her father, David Walsh, successfully campaigned to have her unborn child "Mollie" placed on the register of road traffic deaths.

Yesterday Mr Walsh remembered his daughter, Mary, whose loss devastated her close-knit family.

Irish Independent

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