THE death of two young men in a mid-day car crash has robbed two families of treasured loved ones and placed a pall of grief over an entire community.
A lunch time errand turned in to a double tragedy for close friends and hurling team mates, Sean Malone (18) and Martin Duggan (19) at 1.19pm on Friday, December 23.
The tragic teenagers were “ full of life and a joy to be around,” according to one young girl from the parish. In an unreal twist of fate it has transpired that Martin captained the Ballyhale Shamrocks minor hurling team in 2010 and Sean was captain of the team this year. In training, they normally did fitness drills together and now they are again, hopefully, side by side in a better place - a fact not lost on all their team mates and their fellow club members who formed guards of honour at the funerals.
The accident will forever tarnish the festive season for the community. It is understood that the third occupant of the car was released from Waterford Regional Hospital on Monday. His name has not been released by gardai.
There were scenes of unconsolable grief as the coffin of the man who would be 20 in March was lowered into the family grave yesterday (Tuesday). It was left to the parish priest of Ballyhale, Fr Peter Kehoe, to articulate the feelings of the thousands of people who attended the services.
‘Difficult to understand’
“We are finding it difficult to understand why the lives of two such fine young men were cut off in their prime and taken from us.” he said.
Asked if there was any hope to be taken from the tragedy Fr Kehoe said that both families, consumed by awful sadness, had been greatly helped by the support and outpouring of feeling for them, their extended families, friends and all who had felt the pain.
Fr Kehoe said that since December 23 people had been arriving at the homes of both families in their droves - leaving cakes, sandwiches, whatever they could, to demonstrate in their own way to the Malones and the Duggans that they were not alone.
Gardai have yet to fully disclose details regarding the circumstances surrounding the accident and they are appealing for witnesses to come forward in strict confidence to Thomastown gardai on 056-7754150. They confirmed that Sean Malone died at the scene and that Martin Duggan died later in Waterford Regional Hospital surrounded by family members.
The twin tragedy brings to nine the number of people killed on the roads of Carlow and Kilkenny in 2011, down two from 2010. The Gardai will continue with their road safety message and again asked people to be extra vigilant on the roads in the lead up to and during the New Year festivities.