Fr Tom Carroll was at the nearby parochial house in Parteen when three elderly friends from Corbally were hit by a car that was being chased by gardaí in Clare.
Fr Carroll said: “I got a call from Karen Browne, who runs the pub in the village, to come. What I saw was shocking. Just shocking.
“There were people gathered around to help three injured men. I went to kneel down by the most seriously injured man. They were covered in blood and dust.
“I did not recognise the man at first, until he said ‘It’s you Fr Tom’. Then I realised it was Eric Ryan, who hurled for Limerick years ago. I stayed with him and anointed him. His leg seemed to have been severed in the impact. Some people had managed to jack up the car off of him. I kept praying and talking to him.”
The priest said: “I stayed beside Eric until the ambulance arrived. Local people were there before I got to the scene and did great work to do what they could. It was a shocking, shocking sight. I got an awful shock, when you come across somebody you know in such a terrible scene. Eric was conscious during the time I stayed with him, before he was put into the ambulance. His lower leg was severed.”
Mr Ryan, 79, lost his leg, while his friends Willie Barry, 77, a retired garda, and Dermot O’Brien, who is in his 70s, were also injured.
Mr Ryan was in a critical condition at University Hospital Limerick last night and Mr Barry was stable. Mr O’Brien was allowed home after initial treatment.
The priest added: “Willie Barry was also on the ground but did not seem as badly hurt. Dermot O’Brien, the third man, seemed to have escaped. The three of them come every week for a game of pitch and putt in Parteen and have a drink in Browne’s after. I know them well and often joined them in Browne’s for a jar. They are three great fellows and great company. I prayed for them at Mass this morning and we hope they will make a recovery from this awful situation.”
A man aged 26, arrested shortly after the incident, was in custody at Mayorstone Garda Station last night. Another man was still being sought.
A garda patrol was attempting to intercept the car as part of an investigation into an earlier burglary in the area, when it sped into Parteen village.
The Garda Ombudsman Commission is conducting a separate investigation into the Garda pursuit of the car leading up the accident.