Tragic Nicola dies in crash day after giving birth to Lily-Rose
*New mum on way to hospital to see sick baby
*Tributes paid to 'lady with a constant smile'
*Victim's mother and aunt injured in crash
IT should have been one of the happiest days of her life. New mum Nicola Kenny (26) from Thurles, Co Tipperary had received some fantastic news about her day-old daughter.
Baby Lily-Rose, who was born in the early hours of Sunday morning at Clonmel Hospital, had been transferred to Temple Street Children's Hospital in Dublin over concerns about her health. Her worried mother Nicola was travelling to Dublin to visit her little girl in hospital with her own mother Ann and her aunt Irene Whelan, when she received a phone call from the hospital. Irene pulled into the hard shoulder on the M8 near Cashel, Co Tipperary so Nicola could hear the conversation.
It was good news. Doctors told Nicola that Lily-Rose was doing very well and was going to be transferred back to Clonmel, so there was no need to take the trip.
The relieved young mother hung up the phone and relayed the message that Lily-Rose was improving to her aunt and mother.
Then, suddenly, a truck smashed into the back of the car, killing Nicola, who was in the back seat and injuring her mother and aunt.
Nicola had dreams for her future - and for the future of her little girl.
In her school yearbook at the Ursuline Secondary School, which she attended until 2007, Nicola spoke of her ambition to open her own business as a hairdresser.
Principal Mary Butler said Nicola had a wide circle of friends and had a "big heart".
She had been working at the Thurles branch of Tesco for the last eight years and her manager Robert Foley said the team were "like a second family".
"Nicola was a beautiful, bubbly, friendly young lady... The one thing I remember is just how friendly she was, with a constant smile," he said. "She was always in here, even on her days off she would be in chatting with friends and helping customers out."
She was also a huge Tipperary fan, posting photos in the blue and yellow jersey online, and was thrilled at the All-Ireland win.
On Facebook last night, friends spoke of Nicola's warm laugh and disposition describing her as a "sweetheart".
Nicola was a doting godmother to Teegan and nephew Darragh and very close to her brother Patrick and his wife Ann-Marie. Her parents Patrick and Ann were immensely proud of her.
Nicola came from a well known family in Thurles and worked in Tesco in the town centre.
The shocked community in and around Kennedy Park, which sits in the shadow of Semple Stadium where the Tipperary minor and senior hurling teams were welcomed home on Monday after their All-Ireland victories, was gathering around the Kenny family as news of Nicola's death spread.
"Nicola had Lily-Rose in the early hours of Sunday morning in Clonmel hospital, and all was well, but then later on Sunday there was a bit of concern that the baby had a bit of a temperature and it was decided to transfer her to Temple Street," a family spokesman said.
"Then yesterday Nicola was being driven up to be with the baby when a call came through from the hospital that everything was fine. "Ann pulled the car in to the hard shoulder so Nicola could take the call, and they were delighted to hear Lily-Rose was doing well, and that's when the crash happened," he added.
"We are all devastated. Sunday was a big day of celebration with the baby being born and the Tipperary success at Croke Park, and then this happened.
"Nicola was a great girl, she always had a smile on her face. She was well known in the town and knew everybody because she worked in the local Tesco. It's heartbreaking," he explained.
Nicola is survived by her daughter Lily-Rose, her parents Patrick and Ann, brother Patrick, her sister-in-law Anne Marie, her grandmothers Mary and Ann, uncles and aunts.
Her removal takes place in Thurles tonight at 7.30pm to the Cathedral of the Assumption and her funeral takes place tomorrow at 11am.
Thurles is still decorated in the blue and yellow flags and bunting of the hurling teams after Sunday's double success.
The Kenny family had been enjoying the day also, not least because Nicola's grandfather was triple All-Ireland-winning hurler Paddy Kenny, who played with the county from the late 1940s to the early 1960s.
He was part of the famous Tipperary team that won three All-Ireland titles in a row from 1949 to 1951.
Local representatives said the shocking news had put the celebrations of the sporting successes into perspective.
Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill said the news had numbed the town. "Nicola's family are well known and respected in the town and the county, especially with her grandfather's success for Tipperary and her brother Paddy's links with hurling locally," he said.