Rally star in cliff-plunge tragedy died 'doing what he loved' -- father
THE father of a young rally star who died when his car plunged off a cliff at the weekend said he was comforted by the fact that his son died doing what he loved.
Thomas Maguire (26), from Longwood, Co Meath, died when the Citroen CR2 Max he was navigating ploughed through a hedge before going over the edge of the cliff at a fast section on stage 11 of the Topaz Donegal International Rally on Saturday.
Shane Buckley (25) from Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, his best friend and the driver of the car, is in a stable condition in Letterkenny General Hospital after the accident at Knockalla, near Portsalon on the Fanad Peninsula.
Thomas's grieving father Tom Maguire told the Irish Independent yesterday that his son died doing what he loved most.
"I don't know what to say," he said. "All I would say is that he lived his life for rallying. That was his whole life and he died doing something he enjoyed.
"He was always into cars from the time he was a baby. He loved it and he was only after coming home from Barbados after being out there at a rally for two weeks. He truly enjoyed it and he would never talk about anything else.
"He has competed in national and international events in Ireland and abroad, on tarmac and in forest terrain.
"We're coping well because we have a very close family and we're happy that he passed away doing something that he thoroughly enjoyed.
"We still don't know what happened. We have to wait for the post-mortem report to find that out."
Thomas, who was also a badminton player, had two brothers and two sisters -- Mark (35), Robert (33), Suzanne (30) and Callista (23).
Robert was watching the rally at the corner where the accident occurred.
Eldest brother Mark said that the three boys had been involved in rallying for years and Thomas was hoping to make the switch to the driver's seat soon.
"I've been involved in the sport for 12 years and you always have your ups and downs but, unfortunately, this weekend, we were met with the worst possible scenario," he said.
Mark said his brother was well respected by clubs and fellow competitors. "He was always one to have the craic with the lads and was someone with great wit.
"I have a rally car myself and Thomas said he wanted to drive it someday, but now he will never get that chance."
He added that Thomas was "loved very much" within his family and would be "missed greatly".
The Donegal Motor Club has expressed its "deep regret" at the death of the driver.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Maguire family and the family of the competitor who was injured at this very difficult time," clerk of the course Danny Gormley said.
About 1,500 people attended a memorial for Thomas at the Mount Errigal Hotel in Letterkenny yesterday, where a book of condolences was opened and prayers were said for Mr Buckley.
The Maguire family said they wished Mr Buckley "a full and speedy recovery". Funeral arrangements for Thomas will be posted on the Irish Rally Forums when confirmed.