A cloud of sadness hangs solemnly over the county after the double tragedy which claimed two young lives in the early hours last Friday morning.
The villages of Ardagh and Kenagh united in grief after two popular young men, Tom ‘Woody’ Kearney (24) and Gavin Doyle (22) both lost their lives instantly when the car they were travelling-in lost control and crashed on the Longford to Kenagh road shortly after 12.30am.
Another young woman, Kayleigh McGann – Tom’s girlfriend – was rushed to hospital in Mullingar and later transferred to Midlands Regional Hospital Tullamore where her condition is believed to be improving.
The driver of the black Honda Civic, Stephen Faughnan was transferred to Mullingar Hospital but was released a number of hours later. The young Newtownforbes man was present at the funerals of both men at the weekend.
The group were travelling from Kenagh to Longford for a night out when the car struck a ditch and crossed over to the other side of the road, where it hit a stone wall and overturned on the R397 at Craane, just past Stonepark NS.
A second group of friends were travelling in another car and were first on the devastating scene. They desperately tried to help their friends as they waited for the emergency services to arrive. Gardaí are satisfied alcohol was not a factor in the accident and are currently continuing their investigations.
The funerals of both young men have been described as some of the largest ever to have taken place in Longford. Tom, from Lyonmore in Ardagh – affectionately known as Woody by friends – worked as a mechanic in Corry Auto Engineering in Ardagh. He was described at his funeral mass as a character full of life who was well disposed to everyone. He is survived by his father Tom Snr, mother Sheena and sister Deirdre.
The youngest of four sons, Gavin is survived by his father Brian, his mother Tess and three brothers Tommy, Gary and Shane. Gavin was a well-known face from behind the family bar in the El Paso in Kenagh and was renowned for his love of cars and machinery – as was Tom – working regularly as a farming contractor and seasonal worker with Bord na Móna.
Speaking at Gavin’s funeral, Fr Tom Barden described Gavin as a “gentle giant.” Fr Barden also tragically informed mourners that Gavin’s mother had tried to contact him shortly before the accident at 12am to find out where he was.
As Gavin was the youngest, his mother often stressed about him, with Fr Barden joking that if Gavin was working with Bord na Móna she would want to know in what field exactly.
“He didn’t recognise the recessionary times. He lived life for the moment and he lived life as if nothing had happened to the Euro or to the banks,” Fr Barden said. Sadly, Gavin’s uncle died tragically in a road traffic accident over 30 years ago – at the age of 24 – and was buried in Ballymacormack cemetery. Gavin was laid to rest in the same family plot on Sunday.
Before Tom’s removal to Ardagh cemetery for burial, Fr Pat Lennon read out a note written by the Kearney family in which they thanked everyone for their support, poignantly adding “all were friends, and always will be” as the closing line.
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