Sunday 25 February 2018

Road crash horror: Visitors to Aine's home struggle to contain anguish

Ralph Riegel

THE sobs could be heard right across the housing estate.

Teens had gathered from mid-afternoon to pay their last respects to Aine Riordan (15) as her family decided to give her a traditional 'wake' from her St John's Park home on the tight-knit Castleisland estate in Killarney.

Usually, a large gathering of teens at St John's Park means Kerry is celebrating yet another All-Ireland football triumph.

But yesterday the young people from Castleisland, Killarney, Fossa and Farranfore were simply trying to honour a friend whose young life ended on a road they all knew so well.

Some were visibly distraught as they arrived to pay their respects to the Riordan family.

Others struggled to keep their anguish in check.

In fact, such is the anguish at the deaths of the four Kerry teens on Wednesday morning that Kerry Diocesan Youth Service (KDYS) has arranged for additional counselling to be available if required.

The organisation's staff have voluntarily returned from annual leave to ensure the maximum possible services are available and stressed that a Killarney drop-in centre would remain open for extended hours to help teens in need of advice and support.

All four victims of the horrific crash had supported Kerry YouthReach programmes.

KDYS manager Gemma O'Brien yesterday stressed that youngsters shocked or upset by the tragic deaths of their friends needed a place for support and advice.


"They need a safe space where they can express their feelings. We're putting support systems in place that will help them not only through these days when funerals are taking place, but also in the weeks and months ahead," she said.

Inside the Riordan home at No 19, Aine's parents and siblings were doing their best to bear the horror that was visited upon the family on Wednesday.

Aine died alongside her boyfriend David Breen (17), his younger brother, Kevin (15) and Fossa native Brian Coffey (19).

The only small mercy emerging from the appalling accident was that the fifth passenger in the car, Darragh Jones (16), was last night improving in Tralee General Hospital.

His condition is now described by doctors as stable and there is hope he will recover from his injuries. But this appeared to offer little comfort for her devastated parents, Dan and Mary, and sisters Samantha, Cait and Tara.

The 15-year-old had been scheduled to sit her Leaving Cert next year at St Joseph's Presentation School and had even been eagerly planning her debs dance with her friends.

The school will provide a special guard of honour at today's funeral Mass.

St Joseph's teacher Seamus Falvey said Aine's death left a huge gap in the school.

"She (Aine) was a happy, outgoing kid. Full of life, pleasant, very honest, and popular with her peers," he said.


"She was hoping to have a long and happy life ahead of her it but it's all taken away. We all feel so shocked. It's a terrible thing to happen.

"There was great excitement with the beginning of the new school year. This has certainly cast a shadow over that," he added. "It is so upsetting for the students in the school, many people will be shocked by it. But our main thoughts are with her family and three sisters."

Michael McAuliffe, a teacher at Lissivigeen national school, where both David and Kevin Breen were students, said the sense of loss was palpable.

The Breen brothers' young sister Mary (11) is still a student at Lissivigeen.

"It's such a strange feeling to look at (class) photographs and to think they are just not there any more," Mr McAuliffe said.

Today, Castleisland will say farewell to a teenage girl whose life likewise seemed so full of youthful promise.

Tomorrow, Killarney will do the same for two brothers and a sports-mad 19-year-old.

Irish Independent

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