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Mother and daughter drowned in horror accident to be buried on St Stephen's Day

Louise Clancy (Image via Facebook)
Louise Clancy (Image via Facebook)

A mother and daughter drowned on their way to do Christmas shopping when their car ploughed into a swollen river just 1km from their home.

Geraldine (58) and Louise (22) Clancy drowned in a field which was flooded by the River Blackwater in north Cork after a horror car crash with another vehicle. The accident occurred on the Fermoy-Ballyduff road between Kilworth and Ballyduff shortly before noon yesterday.

Louise, who studied at University College Cork (UCC) and then at the University of Sussex in England, had flown back to Cork from Brighton last weekend to spend Christmas with her parents, Noel and Geraldine, and her siblings Fiona and Declan.

She had decided to have "a girls' day out" yesterday with her mother and sister to do some last-minute Christmas shopping in Fermoy. However, Fiona decided to stay at home.

Their father Noel - who is a highly respected local dairy farmer and very active in community groups - arrived on the scene with a tractor to help without realising his family were involved in the tragedy.

Mrs Clancy and her daughter will repose at Ronayne's Funeral Home in Fermoy on Christmas Eve and will be buried together on St Stephen's Day.

The heartbroken Clancy family were being comforted last night by Kilworth parish priest Canon Donal Leahy.

"It is a great shock," he told RTE Radio One's Drivetime. "I arrived at the scene and I knew the names mentioned, at least I was ready then for the family. I met the husband there, it was just a great shock."

Family friend councillor Frank O'Flynn said both the Kilworth and Ballyduff communities were deeply shocked by the scale of the tragedy.

"People just cannot believe it. A dark cloud has been cast over the area. It is hard to credit that something this terrible could happen just a few days before Christmas," he said, describing it as a freak accident with unimaginable consequences.

It appears there was a collision between two passing vehicles - and the car carrying the mother and daughter spun out of control. It ploughed through a ditch and into an adjacent flooded field.

"They never had a chance. Once the car went into the water there was little or no chance of anyone getting out," a source said.

Both mother and daughter are believed to have drowned. The driver of the other vehicle, a young woman who lives near the Clancy family, escaped serious injury but was treated at the scene for extreme shock.

Louise had been a student at Loreto Secondary School in Fermoy. One former student, who asked not to be named, described her as "an inspiration to all who met her".

Louise suffered from a learning disability but was determined throughout her studies at Loreto not to allow it interfere with her career plans.

She became a member of the UCC journalism society and recently began studies at the University of Sussex. She was studying for a degree in English Literature and Sociology. She had also been a volunteer for some time with the National Council for the Blind of Ireland.

Meanwhile, the sister of a young man killed in a separate three-car collision has described him as her "best friend".

Luan McCaul (20) died in the multi-vehicle crash in Galway which left six others, including a week-old baby, hospitalised.

A woman who had been travelling with her small infant suffered serious injuries in the crash but is now making a good recovery in University Hospital Galway. The baby did not suffer any serious injuries.

Mr McCaul - who is survived by his parents Peter and Senny, and siblings Ruby, Caoilfhinn and Murachadh - will be buried tomorrow.

His heartbroken sister Caoilfhinn posted a message on social media expressing her loss at his sudden death.

"RIP Luan, can't believe you're gone you weren't just my brother but my best friend, love you forever," she wrote.