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Pilot who died in Kilkenny plane crash was flying over daughter’s 18th birthday party

Several party guests witnessed the tragedy unfold as the aircraft crashed nearby.

The man has been named locally as Dick O’Connell.
The man has been named locally as Dick O’Connell.

THE FUNERAL OF a father-of-three who died when the light aircraft he was piloting crashed into electricity cables is being delayed due to his daughter’s birthday. 

Richard ‘Dick’ O’Connell, 51, from Rathcash, Gowran Cross, Co Kilkenny died when his two-seater aircraft crashed about 200 yards from his home around 9pm on Friday last. 

The father-of-three teenage children, one boy and two girls, who was a highly respected builder and stone mason, was flying over his home while his daughter’s 18th birthday party was taking place. 

His daughter Abby, whose birthday party they were marking, turns 18 tomorrow and as a result her much-loved father’s funeral will take place after that according to close family members. 

The young woman has only just completed her Leaving Cert. 

A death notice in Rip.ie says that his family are “heartbroken” by the loss. 

A post-mortem examination was carried out on Mr O’Connell’s body at University Hospital Waterford (UHW). 

The Air Accident Investigations Unit (AAIU) spent several hours at the crash scene to carry out technical along with forensic examinations by gardai. The aircraft was subsequently transported to Meath for further investigation. 

Several party guests witnessed the tragedy unfold as the aircraft crashed near trees and poles. 

AIRCRAFT CRASH II2A5540_90573334 The scene of the light aircraft crash last month. Source: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Close friend Matt O’Keeffe said: “It’s a very sad loss. As a mark of respect all sporting events were cancelled over the weekend as his family are heavily involved in hurling and camogie.”

Dick’s aircraft was a familiar sight in the sky around the locality. He was a very skilled, careful and experienced pilot. 

Party goers, family members and several locals rushed to the site of the crash, however despite efforts to save the aviation enthusiast’s life he died a short time later. 

He was taken to St Luke’s General Hospital in Kilkenny city and later transferred to UHW. 

Gardai from Thomastown and Kilkenny city along with fire units and several ambulances were called to the scene. 

Officers spoke with many of the guests at the house, who remained to comfort the dead man’s wife, two daughters and son.

About the author:

Sarah Slater

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