Tuesday 23 July 2019

'It's heartbreaking' - tearful mayor recalls bid to save tragic father-of-five Manus Kelly after rally crash

Tributes: Manus ‘Mandy’ Kelly had been recently elected to Donegal County Council on his first foray into politics and was ‘widely respected’ by the rally community in Ireland. Photo: Philip FitzPatrick/Sportsfile
Tributes: Manus ‘Mandy’ Kelly had been recently elected to Donegal County Council on his first foray into politics and was ‘widely respected’ by the rally community in Ireland. Photo: Philip FitzPatrick/Sportsfile
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

A life-long friend of Manus Kelly broke down as he recounted his efforts to save the rally driver.

The mayor of Letterkenny, Councillor John O'Donnell, was in one of the cars behind Mr Kelly when the fatal crash took place on Sunday.

Mr O'Donnell had recently celebrated his re-election in Milford with his life-long friend, who had just entered the political arena himself as a councillor.

But the mayor broke down on Highland Radio in Donegal as he explained there was nothing he could do.

Manus Kelly: The tragic rally driver had just become a local councillor. Picture: North West Newspix
Manus Kelly: The tragic rally driver had just become a local councillor. Picture: North West Newspix

Mr Kelly died following the accident at the Fanad Head loop on the final day of the three-day Donegal International Rally.

Mr O'Donnell said: "I had the first aid training from the construction side of things. I had to step up to the plate, to see was there anything I could do for him.

"No, it wasn't to be. It definitely wasn't to be.

"If there was anything we could have done, we'd have done it in our power, we tried and worked really hard [to help Mr Kelly].

Manus Kelly with co-driver Donall Barrett
Manus Kelly with co-driver Donall Barrett

"Full credit to all our competitors there, we took instructions to see was there anything we could do, but unfortunately there was no glimmer of hope.

"He's in a better place now, we said a few prayers over Manus, for God to take him to a better place, and for his family - it's heartbreaking."

Mr O'Donnell, who attended Mr Kelly's removal in Glenswilly, Co Donegal, last night, told the Irish Independent he needed privacy to spend time with Mr Kelly's family and friends.

The Donegal GAA team were told of the death of one of their sponsors and cherished friends moments after they claimed a victory against Cavan at the Ulster final.

The elation of the win turned to grief as the team of young sportsmen were told Mr Kelly, a firm supporter of the side and a close friend of captain Michael Murphy, had died at the Donegal International Rally.

Mick McGrath, county chairman, told the Irish Independent: "After our victory at the Ulster final in Clones, we are numbed by the tragic news of the loss of Manus Kelly.

"We lost one of our great sporting heroes in Donegal and a giant of a GAA follower and supporter of our game. We can only sympathise and remember Manus in our prayers. He lived rallying, it was his main sport.

"He was a lovely person, our thoughts are with his family and with all the people in this community."

Irish Independent

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