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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 3 June, 2020

'Fear in people's faces': Priest describes moment car ploughs through crowds at Dundalk grave yard

A man in his 20s remains in garda custody today following the incident.

Entrance to Dowdallshill grave yard in Dundalk.
Entrance to Dowdallshill grave yard in Dundalk.
Image: Google maps

A PARISH PRIEST has described the “frightening” moment a car ploughed through a crowd attending a religious event in Dundalk yesterday. 

One man was left seriously injured, and a number of others were also injured, after a car drove at speed through Dowdallshill grave yard in Dundalk, Co Louth during the annual Blessing of the Graves ceremony yesterday afternoon. 

The man was rushed to Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Drogheda, while the driver fled from the scene.

A man in his 20s was later arrested following the incident and remains in custody today. 

Fr Mark O Hagan, parish priest at St Patrick’s church in Dundalk, was delivering the service when he saw “hundreds of people just running and screaming and shouting”. 

“It was coming to the end of the Blessing of the Graves, I was at the podium with the choir and a number of other priests, and all of a sudden I could hear shouting and screaming to my left,” he said on RTÉ Radio 1′s Morning Ireland programme. 

“I popped my head around the corner and I could see hundreds of people just running and screaming and shouting, and somebody shouted up ‘father phone for an ambulance’.

“Children were crying, people just walking in disbelief at what had happened, fear in people’s faces.

“The car sped past me up to the upper car park, he seemed to do a wheelie and hit a number of cars in the car park, and come back again.

“Coming back I tried to instinctively just put my left hand out from where I was – I was way off the path – to sort of say ‘please please try to stop, stop or slow down’.

“The driver then mounted the kerb and was coming towards myself, when I instinctively jumped out of the way, and I thought the car itself was making its way to the podium.”

Videos of the incident were shared across social media, and the dark-coloured car was then driven out of the car park and onto the street before eventually coming to a stop. 

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“He did a U-turn and came back the way he came and sped down where he came, and down the left hand side and out of the grave yard.

“At this stage then I went over to the man who had been injured and anointed him and spoke and started asking people to get off the path, because at this stage we didn’t know where the car was or what was happening.”

The man who was seriously injured remains in hospital, with Fr O Hagan saying “he was moved from Drogheda hospital to Beaumont hospital last night with serious head injuries”. 

“It was very frightening, people just in disbelief, pure disbelief at what was going on. It was a religious ceremony… it’s a community [and] family day out, where people come together and make a day out of it and go out.”

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