Killarney is a lively place with a relaxed, holiday atmosphere at this time of year, as visitors enjoy themselves during the peak season.
But the town was strangely subdued on Saturday. A surreal stillness, punctuated only by the occasional clip clop of a jarvey’s horse or the seemingly muffled sound of passing cars, pervaded the streets.
The sense of shock that numbed local people following the tragic death of James Gleeson, a member of an old, established business family, also appeared to affect tourists who crowded around the barriers that cordoned off the town centre streets affected by the gas explosion.
And nobody complained about delays, or traffic diversions.
Mr Gleeson had devoted a working lifetime to his laundrette in Brewery Lane and formed a united family unit with his wife Grace, a retired bank employee who worked in Kenmare, and their son Eoin, 18, who recently sat his Leaving Cert examination.
The trio were regularly seen together, often cycling around the town and in Killarney National Park. Grace and Eoin were being comforted by family and friends at their home.
Mr Gleeson’s cousin, Cllr Michael Gleeson, said he was a most pleasant person and a quiet and very dignified man.
“He was a great lover of music and concerts and a devoted family man who ran a fine business all his life. He also loved nature and the outdoors,” said the county and town councillor. “Everyone is extending sympathy to the family and all hope that, at some time, they will be able to come to terms with this tragedy. It is also of some consolation that his body has been found and formally identified.”
Hotelier Terence Mulcahy, who knew him for 20 years, said he was the “highest calibre of gentleman” and people were extremely sad to see him lose his life in such tragic circumstances.
“We were involved in Killarney Tidy Towns together collecting litter and other activities. He’ll be greatly missed.’
Mr Gleeson played soccer in his younger days with Killarney Athletic AFC.
His body was removed to Kerry General Hospital, Tralee, for an autopsy.
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