Thursday 19 September 2019

'My God, he was something special' - daughter's touching tribute to 'best daddy' killed in tragic crash

'Superhero' Donal O'Brien with his daughter Nicole
'Superhero' Donal O'Brien with his daughter Nicole

Kathy Armstrong and Ralph Riegel

A HEARTBROKEN young woman whose father was killed in a tragic collision last year has paid tribute to him, saying: "I knew I had the best daddy in the world."

Cyclist Donal O'Brien (45) died instantly when he was struck by a car while cycling on the N40 South Ring road near Curraheen in Cork on May 14 last year.

His only child Nicole has said that her father's death is "killing" his loved ones but that his legacy and kindness lives on.

Ms O'Brien honoured her father today as she nominated him for the monthly "Superhero Award" on the Neil Prendeville Show on Cork Red FM.
She said: "I have always been the proudest daughter in the world. He is my superhero.

"He was always so proud of me and I realised this even more after the accident.

"Every second person tells me I’m just like my dad, and it’s the greatest compliment I could ever receive.

"I was my dad’s world and I couldn’t have asked for anymore than what he did for me the last 25 years.

"Coming up to the anniversary, I really think my dad deserves to be recognised for every single good thing he has done throughout his life, I won’t say everything because it would take up the whole show, but oh my God he was something special. He will always be my number one hero."

As the first anniversary of his death approaches, Ms O'Brien called the day he lost his life "the day our world was shattered."

"Ever since I was a baby I was obsessed with my dad, I knew I had the best daddy in the world.

"My dad was the kindest person and would go above and beyond for anybody.

"This nomination is a heavy hearted nomination as we are coming up to a year anniversary since my Dad was taken from us.

"On Sunday the 14 of May 2017, on the Ballincollig bypass, the worst day of our lives, the day our world was shattered and a tragic, fatal accident occurred," Ms O'Brien recalls.

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Maria Harkin drove into Donal O’Brien, pictured, by accident

She also reminisced about some of the traditions she shared with her  father and how kind he was.

She explained: "Every Christmas Eve me and my dad would go into town, it was our day.

"He would put coins from through the year into a jar and dispose them at Christmas to homeless people on the streets.

"He helped out so many people and was there when you needed him, no matter what the time.

"I just can’t describe how much of a hero my dad is to me, and my mom Sandra, his brothers Jason and Jonathan, his mom and dad, Margaret and John and all his friends."

She continued to say: "We all miss him so much, we will never get over this loss, its killing us, but he has definitely left a piece of him in everyone’s heart and made such an impact on everyone’s life.

"He will never be forgotten. Donal O’Brien is the definition of a superstar, a superhero and a champ."

Maria Harkin (38) pleaded guilty to careless driving causing death and received a 12-month suspended prison sentence at Cork Circuit Criminal Court last month.

Sergeant Pat Lyons said Mrs Harkin had co-operated fully with Gardaí, had made immediate admissions and asked Gardaí to express her sympathies and condolences to the O'Brien family.

He said Ms Harkin told them she had just left a Cork toy shop with her children - and was distracted by them, taking her eyes momentarily off the road when they asked for tags to be taken off their new toys.

"It was a momentary lapse in concentration with catastrophic consequences," Sgt Lyons said.

Judge Sean O Donnabháin imposed a suspended sentence and disqualified her from driving for five years as he said it was "carelessness of a very high order".

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