Tuesday 23 January 2018

'An incredible mum' - Much-loved teacher killed in front of husband while out walking

Family pay tributes to 'incredible' mother and Ireland's latest road victim

Road accident victim Mona Clarke proudly displays her medal after she completed the Dublin Marathon last October
Road accident victim Mona Clarke proudly displays her medal after she completed the Dublin Marathon last October

Robin Schiller and Luke Byrne

The heartbroken children of a popular teacher - who died after she was hit by a car while walking with her husband - have paid tribute to their "incredible" mother.

Mona Clarke (53) was killed after a car collided with her on the N2 at Clonavogy near Castleblayney, Co Monaghan.

The tragedy occurred shortly after 1pm on Saturday, as Mrs Clarke was walking along the road with her husband, Dr Michael Clarke.

Dr Clarke also suffered injuries, but they are not thought to be life-threatening. The occupants of the vehicle involved in the incident were not injured.

Mrs Clarke was initially treated by emergency services at the scene before being air-lifted to St James's Hospital in Dublin.

Despite the best efforts by medical staff, she was later pronounced dead.

Her children Andrew (27) and Evie (23) were last night coming to terms with their loss.

They said Mrs Clarke was well known for her love of running, music, card games and literature - especially crime novels.

Mrs Clarke, who spent a lot of her early life in Ghana and Sierra Leone, worked as an English teacher and career guidance counsellor.

She had also started studying for a diploma in psychotherapy.

Mrs Clarke taught English at the nearby Beech Hill College in Tirkeenan.

She had celebrated her 30th wedding anniversary with Dr Clarke (60) in August.

The couple were well known and well loved in their home town of Castleblayney.

Andrew said his parents were starting their training plan for the year when tragedy struck. "They went out for a walk, which was the start of their training plan for the year - they were planning to do a lot of running," he said.

"She had just run her first marathon last year," Evie said.

Mrs Clarke completed the Dublin Marathon in October, they said.

"She was delighted, obviously, it was incredible, it's a great achievement to finish," Andrew said. "My dad did his first a couple of years ago as well, and we've all got at least one.

"There was nothing particularly in mind for this year in terms of races, but she was trying to start off."

Andrew said his mother was an "incredible person".

"She was so compassionate," he said.

Her children also explained how she had recently begun undertaking pro bono counselling work.

"It was extracurricular, pro bono, after work driving to Dundalk or Drogheda. She wasn't driving back here until 9 or 10 in the evening and being paid nothing for the extra work that she did," Andrew and Evie said.

They also described how her mother was loved in the community.

"Everyone is saying 'you know your mom is incredible, the amount of nice things she said to me and she barely knew me,' kind of thing.

"Everyone around the town has a lot of really nice things to say about her. A very gentle person," Andrew said.

The community was last night rallying around the family. Tributes have also been paid online to Mrs Clarke.

One woman wrote on social media: "RIP Mrs Clarke. You're in heaven now, God has another angel. You will be missed so much by your past pupils."

The Cavan and Monaghan Education and Training Board (CMETB) also paid tribute to their colleague.

"This is a terrible tragedy for family, our school and our community. We are deeply saddened by this event. Our sympathy and thoughts are with Mona’s family and friends.

"Mona has been a teacher in Beech Hill College for the past 32 years and will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

"The school has been in contact with her family and they have requested that we all understand their need for privacy at this difficult time."

Gardaí in Castleblayney are appealing for anyone who may have witnessed the road traffic collision to contact them.

The road was closed off for several hours to facilitate Garda forensic collision investigators carrying out an examination.

A Garda spokesperson said the local coroner had been notified of the death.

Fianna Fáil councillor Padraig McNally said: "I express my sympathies to the immediate family and the husband.

"County Monaghan must look closely at why accidents like this are happening."

As well as her husband and children, Mrs Clarke is survived by her mother Yvonne O'Duffy, brother Desmond and sister Mary.

Irish Independent

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