Tuesday 21 November 2017

Community left reeling as three generations die in crash

Road victims Mary Ann Wilson (left) and her daughter Marcella, who died in a road accident at Claremorris, Co Mayo
Road victims Mary Ann Wilson (left) and her daughter Marcella, who died in a road accident at Claremorris, Co Mayo

Ian Begley

The festive decorations ahead of the All-Ireland final stood in contrast to a tragedy that rocked an entire community in Belmullet, Co Mayo.

Locals were left visibly shaken by the road crash that robbed the lives of Marcella Wilson, her son Seán and mother Mary Ann. Three people who all had a unique presence within the tight-knit town.

The death of a seven-year-old boy made the incident even harder to bear.

Seán attended school in Belmullet National School that morning just like any other day, but just before 1pm the car he was travelling in collided with a truck on the N17.

The three were pronounced dead at the scene.

This tragic event has left the community with a deep sense of powerlessness.

Seán Wilson (7), who died in yesterday’s road accident near Claremorris, Co Mayo
Seán Wilson (7), who died in yesterday’s road accident near Claremorris, Co Mayo

Marcella was a single mum-of-four who had moved to Cuan Oisri in Belmullet around four years ago to raise her children.

Last night locals were comforting Marcella's three surviving children Amy (16), Kelly (14) and Anthony (8).

One man, who would do justice to the toughest of Mayo full-backs, fought back tears as he described the impact the tragedy was having in Belmullet.

"Everyone is devastated, even people who didn't even know the family are in tears.

"When something like this happens in your community it affects everyone.

"I have a son around the same age as Sean and just kills me to think that he was taken away so suddenly.

"My wife was very good friends with Marcella and would often have breakfast with her and several other friends.

"They were such a regular, kind-hearted family that everyone loved," he said.

It's difficult to imagine that just 24 hours earlier, the rural village was gearing up for the Mayo v Dublin clash next weekend.

The pride in their county team is obvious, with the majority of its buildings covered in colourful buntings and red and green flags.

But as soon as news of the tragedy hit, the colour and pageantry was at stark odds with what the Wilson family were enduring.

Neighbour and close friend of Marcella's, Teresa Whelan, said the mother-of-four had grown up in nearby Binghamstown where her mother Mary Ann still lived with her husband Josie.

The Wilson family has deep roots in this part of Mayo and the community will now rally around them in their time of need.

"The children are absolutely devastated. But it hasn't really sunk in yet," she said.

"Anthony was saying last night how he was really looking forward to today when he was going to play football at the complex.

"Little did anyone know," she added.

One did not have to travel far to witness the raw grief within the coastal community.

Two female friends stood outside a local shop, visually distraught, eyes watering.

They had little to say to one another, three members of the one family losing their lives in one incident is just too tragic to put into words. The deaths of the Wilsons came as two tourists lost their lives on our roads, leaving more families devastated.

Irish Independent

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