Colleagues stunned as 'great' garda killed on his way home from work
TRIBUTES were paid last night to a garda sergeant and father of five who died in a single-car crash yesterday morning.
Sgt Fergal McHugh (49), from Greystones, Co Wicklow, worked tirelessly to raise funds for sick children and was an ardent anti-drugs campaigner.
Yesterday, shocked colleagues paid tribute to a "great man and a great guard" who was "extremely well liked by everybody in the community".
Sgt McHugh was driving northbound on the N11 shortly before 8am after finishing his night shift at Arklow garda station, when he lost control of his car and crashed at Kiladreenan, Newtownmountkennedy.
He was brought to Loughlinstown Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
Yesterday, garda inspector Slyvester Hipwell, his superior at Arklow garda station, said: "He was very well respected and was well known in GAA circles. He was held in high esteem when he worked in the Dublin area in his early years and he then transferred to Arklow when he got promotion."
Sgt McHugh worked closely with Irish soccer international John O'Shea, raising money for sick children at Crumlin Children's Hospital.
For more than 11 years he played a pivotal role in organising an annual golf classic fundraiser, which was held each May at the European Golf Club at Brittas Bay, Co Wicklow.
Mr O'Shea's brother, garda Alan O'Shea, who is based in New Ross, Co Wexford, struck up a friendship with Sgt McHugh more than 10 years ago when they were both stationed in Arklow town.
As head of the drugs unit at Arklow station, he also played an active role in local community activities, and sat on a number of committees including the Arklow Seabreeze Festival. Sgt McHugh was part of a specialist team that secured a conviction in the case of Arklow shopkeeper John Deasy, who was stabbed to death in 2009.
He also worked on the murder investigation of Stephen O'Meara, whose remains were found in the Wicklow Mountains on Christmas Eve in 2009.
He is survived by his wife, Anne, and five children, ranging in age from 14 to 22. One of his two sons recently joined the Garda Reserve, and he has a daughter attending university.
One of his greatest passions in life was the GAA, and he spent many years travelling around the country watching his son play for local Greystones side Eire Og.
One of Sgt McHugh's proudest moments was when his son, Eoin, secured a place on Wicklow's U-21 squad, winning the Leinster intermediate football title with Eire Og last December.
Eire Og's Leinster hurling league match against Clonad from Laois yesterday was called off as a mark of respect.
A book of condolences has been set up at Arklow garda station.
Witnesses to the crash are asked to contact Bray garda station on 01-6665300, the Garda Confidential line on 1800-666 111 or any garda station.
Sgt McHugh's death brings to three the number of people killed on the roads over the bank holiday weekend.
On Saturday, a 32-year-old motorcyclist was killed after crashing near the village of Easkey, Co Sligo.
And Fr Edward Murphy (58), a priest who was on a visit home from England, was killed when his car collided with a tractor in Co Kilkenny on Friday.