“While it’s bad, it could have been an awful lot worse”.
These were the sentiments expressed by the owner of the Rustic Inn in Abbeyshrule, Teddy McGoey, as he looked out the gaping hole at the side of his premises this morning (Thursday).
Part of the building was badly damaged after a helicopter crashed into it at around 9:20pm last night.
“Sometimes we have functions here around that time, but thankfully we didn’t have one last night,” added Mr McGoey who runs the famous landmark in Abbeyshrule alongside his son Edward.
“It was a strange place for a plane to land, but thankfully nobody was killed.”
The helicopter - an Aerospatial Gazelle type - originally developed in France for military use crashed landed on the banks of the Royal Canal in Abbeyshrule on Wednesday night with two people on board.
Nobody was injured and eye witnesses in the area say the two men walked out of the aircraft which split in two upon impact.
“I saw a helicopter flying over the house, so I went to the top of the bridge to video it,” 14-year-old Ciarán Doyle told the Leader in Abbeyshrule today.
“I noticed the helicopter was flying very low and hovering over the canal,” the son of Padraig and Frances Doyle explained further.
“This went on for about five minutes and then the aircraft spun around, hit the Rustic Inn and flipped.
“I picked up the phone and dialled 999.”
Gardaí arrived within minutes of Ciarán’s call and they were followed by the local fire brigade services and paramedics.
“It was very frightening to witness the crash,” Sandra Rooney said.
“I was walking the dog and I came back across the bridge, came into the house and sat down.
“I heard noise and it appeared to be very close, and when I went outside I saw a helicopter.”
She went on to say that she thought at first that the aircraft might have been an air ambulance but after observing it “clipping trees” and “hitting the side of the Rustic Inn”, Ms Rooney realised something more serious was at play.
“I got such a fright,” she added,
“After the crash the smell of fuel was so strong, you could taste it; it was very frightening.”