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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Brigid 'was Irish through and through'

Colin Gleeson

BRIGID 'Bree' O'Mara who was killed in the Libyan air crash "was Irish through and through", her family said yesterday.

Her husband Christopher Leach (41), from Pretoria, South Africa, said: "I'm just in a state of shock at the moment."

He said his wife had enjoyed the happiest moments of her life on board an airplane -- the couple first met on a flight five years ago.

"She was used to flying and used to airplanes but she hated airbuses," he added.

She was due to fly to London last month but her flight was cancelled because of the volcanic ash crisis.

Mr Leach said Bree's sister Aideen was travelling to Tripoli to identify her body and to have it repatriated to South Africa.

The popular writer's website crashed yesterday afternoon as fans flocked there upon hearing the sad news.

Mr Leach said: "I've been getting dozens and dozens of phone calls from people I don't know but who knew her -- she just touched so many lives.''

Her brother Brendan Hoare (54), who lives in Cambridge, said: "I'm missing her horribly already."

Her deceased parents were Imelda O'Mara, from Nenagh, Co Tipperary, and Ben Hoare, from Rush, Co Dublin. They had eloped to Durban in South Africa where Bree was born.


Her uncle was Mike Hoare, a famous mercenary soldier who was the inspiration for several films, including 'Wild Geese', and several books.

Born in 1968, Bree -- who had also worked in media in Canada, the US and England -- received a book deal with publishing company 30 Degrees South after she won a readers' choice prize in South Africa's 'Citizen' newspaper.

Her first book 'Home Affairs' was published in 2007 and she was due to sign a UK contract for her next novel.

Mr Leach said her Irish roots were "very important" to her.

"She felt very strongly about Ireland," he said. "The last time she was there would have been scattering her father's ashes about five years ago."

In her final online blog entry, Bree described how she felt she was "better off on the ground than up in the air".

She made the comments after her Britain-bound flight was cancelled due to the volcanic ash cloud over Europe last month.

The author had been supposed to fly to London to attend the London Book Fair -- and she spoke of her disappointment at missing out.

"Yes, I live, eat and breathe books, but I'll live, eat and breathe them with or without the book fair: once a bibliophile, always a bibliophile.

"And at least I'm better off on the ground than I would be up in the air. Or possibly even in Tripoli," she added.

Irish Independent

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