Tuesday 24 April 2018

Tributes paid to man who suffered fatal heart attack at daughter's wedding reception

The late Tommy O'Brien
The late Tommy O'Brien

Gordon Deegan

Tributes have been paid to a man who suffered a fatal heart attack at his daughter's wedding reception.

Hours earlier, Tommy O'Brien, from the village of Quin, Co Clare, had proudly walked his only daughter Karen up the aisle at her wedding to husband Mike O'Halloran at their local church, which is situated seven miles away from Ennis.

Mr O'Brien (70) later joined the newly-weds and their family and many friends at a reception to celebrate their marriage.

It's understood Mr O'Brien was on the dancefloor with his daughter when he collapsed shortly before 9.30pm on Saturday night.

The dancefloor at the Bunratty Castle Hotel in Bunratty was cleared and celebrations ended to allow an off-duty nurse and others work with the aid of a defibrillator to try to revive the grandfather before an ambulance and paramedics arrived.

However, Mr O’Brien, a father-of-two, never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) later that night.

Mr O’Brien’s wife, Noreen and their only son, Eoin, were also present at the celebrations when he collapsed.

Karen and other members of the O’Brien family subsequently travelled to UHL to be with Mr O’Brien.

Karen and her husband had booked a honeymoon to Mexico but are now preparing for Mr O’Brien’s funeral mass at the same church in which they married in Quin Abbey on Wednesday.

Local man Sonny Scanlan had just arrived at the hotel last Saturday for the ‘afters’ of the wedding celebrations when he was met by crowds of people leaving the function room and he was told what had just happened.

A friend of the O’Brien family, Mr Scanlan, said yesterday that the village of Quin is “numb and dumb-founded” following the death of Mr O’Brien and the circumstances involved.

The retired Fine Gael councillor said that Mr O’Brien - a former employee of Shannon Airport who retired a number of years ago - was on a waiting list for a heart by-pass operation.

“Tommy was very much involved in the community. He was a very popular man and he got on with everyone. It is very sad for the family and is just awful what has happened,” he said.

Friend of the family and local shop owner, Ger O’Halloran said that “there is as much a sense of shock in Quin today as there is a sense of loss”.

“The very unfortunate set of events make Tommy’s passing even more difficult.”

Mr O’Halloran is chairman of local soccer club, Rhine Rovers that recently made Tommy ‘Life President’ in honour of his contribution to the club over 34 years.

He said: “Tommy was absolutely thrilled to get that honour and it was so well deserved.  He was a founding member of the club. Tommy was one of the ‘go to’ people in the community if you wanted something done. He was a real ‘roll up your sleeves’ type of man.”

Mr O’Halloran said that Tommy was “very involved in life in Quin” and was a corner back in the local team that won the county junior hurling championship in 1978.

He remarked: “Tommy was an old style corner back that played the man as much as the ball.”

Mr O’Halloran said that the Rhine Rovers club is to provide a guard of honour at Tommy’s funeral on Wednesday.

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