Community shock after road deaths

A Mayo community has been gripped by shock and sorrow as it struggles to come to terms with the loss of three members of a much-loved family in Monday’s horror road crash, writes Caroline O'Doherty.

Mother of four Marcella Wilson from Belmullet, her youngest child, Sean, 7, and her mother, Mary Ann Wilson, who was in her seventies, all died instantly when their car was in collision with a lorry at a notorious junction on the N17 just outside Claremorris.

Mourners gathered at Mary Ann’s home at Binghamstown outside Belmullet which has become the focal point of the family’s and community’s grief and attempted to comfort her bereft husband, Josie, and Marcella’s three surviving children.

The view from the Ballindine road looking towards the junction onto the N17 near Claremorris. Pic: Andy Newman.

Devastated Amy, 16, Kelly, 14, and Anthony, 9, were at school when the accident happened and had the news broken to them by relatives.

Many local social and sporting events were cancelled as word of the tragedy spread around the remote but close-knit Erris peninsula and Fr Kevin Hegarty of the Kilmore-Erris parish said a numbness and silence had come over the area.

Fr Michael Reilly of the neighbouring Belmullet parish where Anthony made his first communion earlier this year and where Kelly is an altar server, said he had visited Josie and Mary Ann’s home and it was a scene of deep sorrow.

“It’s an unbelievable tragedy to lose three generations of the one family,” he said. “It’s hard to get your head around. The family are very well known so many in the community feel the loss.”

Marcella, a single mum, was one of five siblings, some of whom live locally, while others live in England. Funeral arrangements were not finalised until preparations could be made by all of the large extended family to travel to Erris but it was announced last night that the deceased would be waked tonight in the family home before being brought to McDonnell’s funeral home tomorrow.

Removal is to take place from there to the church tomorrow and the funeral Mass is on Friday.

Sean had just started in senior infants at Belmullet National School, where teachers yesterday had to explain to his young friends why he would not be returning to class.

Principal Redmond Connolly said: “Our school community is shocked and saddened at the tragic loss of life of Sean Wilson, his mother Marcella and grandmother Mary Ann. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Wilson family at this time.”

The Lisduff junction where the accident happened has been a cause of concern for many years.

This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

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