Rathdowney residents, Martin Brophy, who was 20, and neighbours Angela Kelly, who was in her 30s, and Orla Curry, in her 20s, all died when their car hit a sign between Abbeyleix and Rathdowney.
A fourth passenger, a 16- year-old boy, was taken to hospital but is expected to make a full recovery. The three, who regularly socialised together, had celebrated another friend’s 21st birthday and it is believed they were on their way to a service station at Ballacolla to pick up fast food when the crash happened at around 3am yesterday.
Heavy rain had fallen earlier in the evening and there are some bad bends on the road but it is not clear how the crash happened. The road was closed to all traffic until late yesterday afternoon while Garda technical experts examined the scene.
Local people later arrived to lay flowers. Local councillor John King said the whole area was in deep shock.
“I passed through the centre earlier and there must have been 30 or 40 young people all gathered together not knowing what to think.
“We have lost three good people. It’s a desperate tragedy and the families will need every support and we won’t let them down.”
All three were well known in the area. Angela Kelly had worked in the SuperValu and Orla Kelly in the Donaghmore Workhouse Museum. Martin Brophy worked in Limerick but still lived in Rathdowney where his family were still mourning the death of their mother 18 months ago.
The number of people killed on the roads this year is now 81 after a cyclist injured in an accident last week died of his injuries on Friday.
Brendan Doherty, in his 50s, of Woodside, Carndonagh, Co Donegal, suffered head injuries when he struck a wall on Sunday last week.