It is the second Christmas tragedy to strike north Cork. As hundreds of people gathered last night for the removal of nurse Maeve O’Shea, who died following a freak accident in Newmarket, arrangements were being made to fly home the body of John Kelleher, who was killed when his car was in collision with a truck.
The accident happened last Friday when Mr Kelleher, from Grange West, Fermoy, was driving to work at a farm 100kms west of the capital, Riyadh.
He had been working as a farm manager with a dairy production company, Almarai, since May 2000.
Speaking from Saudi Arabia last night, colleague Dermot Moloney paid tribute to Mr Kelleher. “John was very popular and had plenty of friends. He was a good lad. A lot of his colleagues are shocked and saddened. A number of them will be travelling home for the funeral,” Mr Moloney said. Hundreds of people visited the family home in the past few days to offer their sympathy to his parents Mick and Nora.
Mr Kelleher, the eldest of a family of seven, is also survived by his brothers, Paul, Kieran and Dermot and sisters Colette, Marie and Michelle. His body will be flown into Cork tomorrow morning and his removal will take place on Wednesday night.
Local priest Fr Anthony O’Brien said: “It’s a tragedy that has hit the whole town. People are in absolute shock.” Meanwhile, a huge crowd attended the removal last night of Maeve O’Shea, a nurse at Cork University Hospital, who died last Friday from extensive burns she received when her hair and clothes caught fire as she was trying to light a cigarette from a gas stove.
The 25-year-old single woman had been on a Christmas visit to her uncle and aunt’s home in New Street, Newmarket, when the accident happened.
An even larger crowd is expected to attend her Requiem Mass at noon
today in St Mary’s Church, Newmarket. Ms O’Shea will be buried afterwards at Clonmult Cemetery.