Three close friends killed in a road accident after enjoying the first day at the Listowel racing festival have been named.
Tommy Murphy and Thomas Homes, both aged 32 and Richard Furey, 37, had been in a cab which collided with a car on the main N21 Limerick to Kerry road.
They were returning to Newcastle West for their usual Sunday night together in the Dollar Bar when the crash happened.
Mr Furey’s wife Patricia had been sitting in the pub waiting for the well-known butcher to come in when news filtered through of the accident.
Initial reports suggested the car might have suffered a blow out on a dangerous stretch of the road before colliding with the cab.
The dead men, all from the Newcastle West area, took a few days off work around this time every year to enjoy the Listowel races.
Jerome Scanlan, local Fine Gael councillor, visited Mr Homes’ parents, personal friends in Feonanagh, to express his sympathies.
“The mood in the town is absolutely sombre. They are distraught,” he said.
“Tommy was the type of guy who came out to Feonanagh to help on the farm in every way he could.”
He added: “They were just the nicest bunch of guys you could meet.”
The crash happened at about 9.10pm on a notorious stretch near Garryduff only a few miles from the men’s homes.
Seven others were injured – three in the Nissan Serena people carrier hackney and four others in the Opel Astra returning from a GAA match in Abbeyfeale.
Some of those in the car were on Fr Casey’s Senior Football panel and on the way home after the County Senior Football quarter final against Monaleen.
The cab driver and two passengers were taken to hospital but their injuries were not life-threatening while the four in the car suffered only minor injuries.
Mr Furey, father of a three-year-old boy, was a well known figure in the town in Griffin’s butchers in the Square in Newcastle West.
It is believed he was sitting with his two friends along the side of the cab which bore the full impact of the collision.
Locals who knew the men from their regular Sunday nights in the Dollar bar gathered in the pub throughout the day to console one another.
Mr Scanlan added: “Richard Furey was so full of life. He was the safest pair of hands you could find, a great guy, competent and a great family man, always willing to help.
“He was known by everybody and loved by people.”
Francis Foley, a Fianna Fáil councillor and businessman in Newcastle West, said the town was in disbelief.
“People are just trying to come to terms with it,” he said.
“The three of them were great friends and met every weekend. It’s a tragedy.”
The deaths bring to 150 the number of people killed on the country’s roads this year, official Garda figures showed.
The road, which was closed for several hours, was wet at the time of the accident.