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Friday 23 March 2018

Gardai wait to interview N2 crash survivors

Mother and daughter buried in same coffin

Maeve Sheehan and Stephen Maguire

A GROUP of friends involved in the horrific car crash in Co Monaghan that killed three people, including a pregnant woman, socialised and played pool just hours before the tragedy unfolded.

The four men were in Sark's Bar in Louth village for a pool contest on the afternoon of the fatal accident, gardai have been told.

The group included Paul Carroll, 27, from Dunheeda in Meath, and his friend, Glenn Curtis, also 27, from Nobber in Co Meath, who died hours later when the BMW in which they were passengers crashed into an oncoming car at 6.30pm last Monday.

Roisin Connolly, 39, and her unborn daughter, Catherine, died later in hospital. She was travelling home to Dublin with her husband, Stephen, after visiting family in her native Donegal.

Detectives investigating the tragedy have been told that Paul and Glen drove to Louth with their friend Kevin McArdle, 28, a publican in Kingscourt, and a fourth man. Two of the group entered the pool contest and they all left shortly after being beaten.

Detectives have been told the men called to another pub in Ardee but it is believed that they didn't stay. The friends then continued towards Carrickmacross, driving on the N2 in heavy rain.

They were just a short distance from the town on a straight stretch of road when tragedy struck. Gardai suspect that the BMW, driven by Kevin McArdle, may have clipped an oncoming Opel Vectra before colliding with a second oncoming car, a Seat Toledeo, driven by Stephen Connolly.

Paul Carroll and Glen Curtis, one a front-seat passenger in the BMW and the other in the back, died at the scene. Roisin, who was five months pregnant with Catherine, died in hospital, despite efforts to save both mother and child. Stephen Connolly was injured.

Kevin McArdle remains in hospital along with the other surviving passenger, who is understood to be in a critical condition.

The occupants of the Opel Vectra, a couple and their two children, a boy aged two and a girl aged 13 months, escaped uninjured.

Detectives investigating the cause of the crash are examining CCTV footage from Sark's Bar. Detailed statements have been taken from publicans and bar staff in Louth and the pub in Ardee.

Stephen Connolly, who buried his wife and daughter on Friday, has also given detectives his recollection of the moments before the crash. Gardai also hope to interview the driver of the BMW, Kevin McArdle, along with the other surviving passenger.

Mr Connolly, an accountant and son of a former Fianna Fail junior minister, Ger Connolly, was driving back to Dublin with Roisin following a Christmas visit to his wife's family in Donegal. The couple were to celebrate their first wedding anniversary this year.

Fr Pat Garvey paid a moving tribute to Roisin at her funeral in Fanavolty in the Donegal Gaeltacht on Friday.

He said Roisin, a teacher at the Educate Together school in Balbriggan, north Dublin, was a beautiful spirit looking forward to the birth of her baby.

"There was a joy, a pride, a hope and a dream for that baby, for Stephen and for herself. You could see how perfect it all was for her. She had found a man whom she loved and adored and a man who loved and adored her even more. She was the happiest woman on earth."

Baby Catherine was laid to rest in her mother's arms. She had originally been placed in a little white coffin and waked at her mother's home.

But a last-minute decision was made to bury them together in the same coffin in the cemetery adjoining St Mary's Church in Fanavolty, Fanad, on Friday afternoon.

A friend of the family said Roisin's heartbroken husband Stephen, 32, and her mother Kathleen made the decision.

"It was originally planned that little Catherine would be buried in her own coffin and placed in the grave beside Roisin.

"However, the family decided that they could not bare the thought of separating them. The little white coffin was brought to the church but little Catherine was already alongside Roisin.

"The family are devastated and numbed by all that has happened but they feel a small bit better knowing that Roisin and her daughter are together in Heaven now," she said.

The Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, was represented at the funeral and a message of sympathy was sent by President Mary McAleese.

Paul Carroll was buried in Kingscourt on Friday. Fr Gerry McCormack described him as a hardworking, light-hearted individual and said his death had had a deep impact on the community.

His friend, Glen Curtis, was buried in Nobber. His family had suffered multiple tragedies nine years ago when his aunt and four cousins were killed in a car accident as they travelled to Donegal on a summer holiday.

Gardai have appealed for witnesses to the accident to contact Carrickmacross garda station at 042 9661222 or the confidential telephone line at 1800 666111.

Sunday Independent

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