South Mayo and north Galway are in shock following the deaths of Brian Mullin and Sharon Ryan.
Mr Mullin, of Ballinrobe, Co Mayo and Ms Ryan of Carras, Co Mayo, were killed on Sunday night when the Volkswagen Golf they were in was in a collision with a van on the N21 between Adare and Patrickswell.
Emergency services rushed to the scene shortly after 9.25pm but Mr Mullin and Ms Ryan, both in their 30s, were pronounced dead at the scene.
A man and woman in their 20s and a baby boy, who were passengers in the van, were taken to hospital but are understood not to have sustained serious injuries.
Mr Mullin, who is believed to have celebrated his birthday the day before the collision, is an older brother of Mayo footballer Oisín Mullin, and had just returned from the United States in recent times, having lived there for a number of years.
Oisín and Jarlath Mullin were in Chicago playing for John McBride’s GAA Club this summer and made arrangements to return home when they received news of their brother’s death.
Ms Ryan, was well-known in north Galway GAA and fitness circles as a strength and conditioning coach for numerous sporting clubs, including Tuam/Cortoon and Kilkerrin/Clonberne.
She was a personal fitness coach through her own company, Phoenix Fitness 247, which was located in Kilkerrin/Clonberne LGFA’s club gym.
She attended ATU Sligo and lived in Australia for a number of years where she began her career in the fitness industry.
A spokesperson for Kilkerrin/Clonberne LGFA said Ms Ryan’s “beautiful smile” will be sorely missed.
“In the short time we knew her she became a very important and much-loved member of our community,” the spokesperson said.
“Anyone who was lucky enough to have met Sharon in the time she was with us will be more than aware of her enthusiastic, positive personality. Her energetic nature was infectious.
“She contributed to the training of many in our community and specifically our club teams. Our club gym was Sharon’s base for her very successful Phoenix Fitness 247 business.
“Sharon was always actively planning for future projects and coming up with ideas to get more and more people in the community involved in fitness while also having as much fun as possible.
“She and her beautiful smile will be sorely missed by our club and wider community. We extend our deepest sympathies to both Sharon and Brian’s families and friends.”
Michael Burke, a member of Mayo County Council, said there was a sense of “shock” and “stunned silence” over the locality since news of the deaths had reached Ballinrobe and the wider community.
“It’s just horrendous. It’s the worst nightmare for any community or for any family,” he told the Irish Independent.
“Words just can’t explain it. My sympathies go to both families involved and to their wider community of friends.
“What was supposed to be a great day of the celebration of football – with Brian’s family such keen lovers of the game – then for this to occur.
“It brings it all crashing down to earth and brings such sadness to two wonderful families. There’s just a stunned silence on everybody here.”
Gardaí in Limerick are appealing for witnesses following the fatal collision.
Both Mr Mullin and Ms Ryan were pronounced dead at the scene and their bodies were removed to University Hospital Limerick.
The road was closed for much of yesterday to allow for an examination by forensic collision investigators, but it has since reopened.
Gardaí in Limerick are appealing to anyone who may have witnessed the collision to contact Henry Street garda station on 061 212 400, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any garda station.