A miner killed in an explosion was looking forward to the birth of a new baby this summer, it emerged yesterday.
Joe Fallon (47) died as he worked 190 metres underground in Lisheen Mine in Co Tipperary, which mainly produces zinc. It is not immediately clear what sparked the large explosion.
Mr Fallon worked for the company with his two brothers and his partner, who is expecting a child.
Lisheen general manager John Elms said the mine rescue service went into "full emergency mode" after the alarm was raised at around 6.30pm on Wednesday.
Rescuers brought another worker, Chris Barlow, to the surface first and he was treated on site before being brought to hospital.
"As we evacuated everybody from the mine, we discovered through our emergency procedure that there was another person missing. That other person was Joe Fallon. My rescue team were on the scene and were dealing with the situation," Mr Elms said.
Mr Barlow, who is in his 50s, was recovering from the accident in Cork University Hospital where his condition was described as stable. It's understood he sustained serious facial injuries in the blast.
Mr Fallon was originally from Two-Mile-Borris in north Tipperary but had been living in Callan, Co Kilkenny, where he shared a home with his partner, Sara Bulfin. Ms Bulfin is an administrator with Lisheen Mine.
She is pregnant with Mr Fallon's child and is due to give birth in the summer.
The mine captain, who was separated from his wife Eileen, had three other children -- Jeff, Jack and Clodagh.
Mr Fallon is also survived by his parents Joe and Breda Fallon, his brothers, Vinny and Kevin, and sisters Sharon and Fiona.
Fr Pat Murphy from Moyne informed Mr Fallon's family about the tragedy along with representatives from the company on Wednesday night.
Last night, Mr Fallon's family were too shocked to talk, however, friends described him as "very popular".
North Tipperary TD Michael Lowry, who knows the Fallon family, described Joe's death as a "huge loss".
He said Mr Fallon was an "outgoing" and "friendly guy" who was well-liked in the area.
Coincidentally, safety had just been on the minds of community activists near Lisheen Mine, who wanted the plant's good record to continue as it was in the process of being transferred from Anglo American to another company -- Vedanta.
Local Cllr John Hogan said a public meeting was due to be held today as people in the area wanted to ensure Vedanta would comply with strict legislation and pollution prevention.
Lisheen Mine yesterday expressed "immense sadness" over Mr Fallon's death.