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heartbroken Storm Eunice: ‘I prayed we would be safe’ – wife of tragic council worker killed by falling tree

Nobody could ask for a better father or husband’

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William ‘Billy’ Kinsella, from Ballythomas Hill in Gorey, Co Wexford, was working to clear debris from a road in Ballythomas, Co. Wexford, Ireland

William ‘Billy’ Kinsella, from Ballythomas Hill in Gorey, Co Wexford, was working to clear debris from a road in Ballythomas, Co. Wexford, Ireland

Ro-Ro Ferry Eurocargo Bari being battered by Storm Eunice outside the harbour off Myrtleville, Co. Cork. Photo: David Creedon

Ro-Ro Ferry Eurocargo Bari being battered by Storm Eunice outside the harbour off Myrtleville, Co. Cork. Photo: David Creedon

A snow plough in blizard conditions trying to clear the snow at Mountain Top Letterkenny from Storm Eunice on Friday morning. Photo Brian McDaid.

A snow plough in blizard conditions trying to clear the snow at Mountain Top Letterkenny from Storm Eunice on Friday morning. Photo Brian McDaid.

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William ‘Billy’ Kinsella, from Ballythomas Hill in Gorey, Co Wexford, was working to clear debris from a road in Ballythomas, Co. Wexford, Ireland

A COUNCIL worker killed by a falling tree during Storm Eunice has been remembered as “an extremely great husband and father”.

William ‘Billy’ Kinsella, from Ballythomas Hill in Gorey, Co Wexford, was working to clear debris from a road leading to the local school near his home when he was fatally injured after a tree came down in strong winds.

The 58-year-old has been described by friends and family as a “hard-working man” who adored his son Conor.

His heartbroken wife Rita Kinsella, who was married to him for 26 years, told the Irish Independent: “Nobody could ask for a better husband or father. It will be hard to digest. You know when you’re used to someone coming home in the evening time and today, suddenly, they are not there.

“It was just a horrible accident. His colleagues at Wexford County Council were always very good to him and he was very happy there.

“He’d been working with them since 2017 and had been with BAM Construction up in Dublin before that.

“He wasn’t a person for the limelight. He was a very hard-working man who went to work, did his work and came home to his family.”

There were a number of fallen trees, branches and electrical wires in the Ballythomas area yesterday. The road where the tragic accident occurred remained closed overnight.

Ms Kinsella said the weather “took a turn for the worst” very quickly.

“There wasn’t a breeze at one point and then suddenly it was like there was a tornado and trees were being uprooted left, right and centre,” she said.

“When I left for work there wasn’t a breeze. I prayed last night that everyone would be safe including our livestock – we’ve three donkeys, and I was praying everyone would be safe in the storm. It was just a tragic accident.”

The Kinsellas built their house in Ballythomas and lived across from Mr Kinsella’s family home.

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Locals have been left in shock following the incident, and dozens of people called to pay their respects to the popular family.

“Our wonderful neighbours and friends have been so great. The gardaí and fire crew were all so lovely,” his widow added.

“He had a lot of experience under his belt in health and safety and loved his work.

“He was a great man and a great father. He was an extremely great husband and father. Our son Conor is in first year in UCD and he was always interested in his career and he always attended Conor’s GAA matches. We’re so proud of him.”

Local Sinn Féin councillor Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin, who is a neighbour of the family, said the victim was a “hard-working, quiet family man”. “His late father Paddy Kinsella was heavily involved in Killanerin and Wexford GAA and they’re a very well-respected family,” he added.

Labour Party TD Brendan Howlin also paid tribute to Mr Kinsella.

“We are all saddened and shocked to hear the tragic news today that one of our local authority workers was killed while serving his community,” he said.

“This terrible news really highlights the real-life risks that essential workers take every day on the behalf of all of us.”

Wexford County Council confirmed the death of its employee, saying: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the employee’s family, work colleagues and friends at this very difficult time.”

His body was transferred to Waterford University Hospital for a post-mortem.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) will be carrying out an investigation into the incident.

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