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School says community in 'deep shock' as two teenagers killed in crash before debs in Monaghan

Two other teenagers and a 60-year-old man have been hospitalised.

LAST UPDATE | 1 Aug 2023

TRIBUTES HAVE BEEN paid after two teenage girls died and three others were injured in a fatal road crash in Co Monaghan yesterday evening.

Gardaí attended the scene of the crash, that happened at 6.45pm yesterday evening, on the N54 road in Legnakelly.

As of a Garda statement shortly after 11.20pm, one vehicle remained at the scene.

Two girls, aged 16 and 17, who were passengers in the car, were fatally injured. Both bodies were taken to Monaghan General Hospital where post-mortems will take place today.

“A female teenager (aged 18 years) is in a critical condition and currently receiving treatment in Cavan General Hospital,” gardaí said in a statement.

“A male teenager (aged 18 years) is currently receiving treatment in Cavan General Hospital for non-life threatening injuries.

“The male driver of the car (aged 60) is in a critical condition and is currently receiving treatment in Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.” 

The Journal understands that some of the individuals involved in the crash were travelling to a debs yesterday evening.

It is understood that all five involved in the crash were travelling in the same vehicle.

Largy College said in a statement that its community is in “deep shock” following the incident. 

“It is with profound sadness and grief that we have learned about the devastating accident that resulted in the untimely and tragic loss of two cherished members of our school community,” principal Sharon Magennis said. 

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends who have tragically lost loved ones. The other individuals involved in the accident also remain in our thoughts and prayers at this time,” Magennis said. 

“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the emergency services and gardaí who responded swiftly to the incident,” she said. 

Magennis said the school’s “priority now is the wellbeing and welfare of the students, parents and staff at this difficult time”. 

She added that the Largy College critical incident team has met to coordinate a response and enact the critical incident plan. 

“We are grateful to the public for their deeply felt expression of support and ask that we be given the time and space to concentrate on supporting those in the school community who are most in need.” 

David Maxwell, chairperson of Monaghan County Council and a member of the Board of Management at the school, was asked on RTÉ’s News at One whether all the young people travelling in the car were students of the school.

He said: “I think three of them were, I’m not sure about the fourth.”

‘An unimaginable tragedy’ 

Local councillor Richard Truell told the PA news agency: “It’s tragic, the community is shocked.

“We can’t get our heads around what’s happened because two young lives have been lost.

“Our thoughts and prayers have to go to their families.”

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys, who is a TD for the Cavan-Monaghan constituency, told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that the incident was “an unimaginable tragedy” and said her thoughts and prayers are with the families of all involved. 

“The entire community in Clones, Killeevan and the Smithborough area has just been numbed by this,” she said.

“This was a debs night for Largy College. It should have been a night of celebration and a kind of coming of age for these young people, and it has just turned into their families’ worst possible nightmare.”

Humphreys said Clones Youth Centre is providing support and she expects that Largy College and Cavan-Monaghan Education and Training Board will be supporting students and families in the coming days and weeks.

“This is just awful news for so, so many families. Young people, to see their friends cut off at such a young, young age, it’s heartbreaking, it really is, and it’s very, very difficult for them to do.

“None of us ever, ever know what’s around the corner. I know a lot of parents across the country will hear this news today and I know that they’ll be holding their children extra tight because it really is every parent’s worst nightmare.”

fine-gael-td-heather-humphreys-speaking-outside-largy-college-in-clones-co-monaghan-two-teenage-girls-who-attended-the-school-were-killed-and-three-people-are-in-hospital-after-a-road-traffic-colli Fine Gael TD Heather Humphreys speaking outside Largy College in Clones, Co Monaghan today Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Sinn Féin councillor Pat Treanor said an “absolute horror is unfolding”. 

“It’s heartbreaking for everyone who lives in the area,” Treanor said. 

“I’d like to offer my solidarity with all of those who are affected by this incident and, indeed, to extend on my own behalf and on behalf of the local community … sincere sympathy to the families of the two children who died,” he said. 

Treanor said that earlier in the evening when he was leaving work he witnessed young people gathering for the debs ball, adding that “about an hour later there were helicopters in the air, there were sirens of ambulances and the sad messages started coming through that there had been a serious accident”. 

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smyth told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny that the incident happened on a busy road that always has a heavy volume of traffic. 

“It’s an awful tragedy for those families and for the wider school community as well,” Smyth said. 

He added that he understands the National Educational Psychological Service will be providing support. 

“When we think of the debs night, the excitment, meeting up, getting together, the preparations and all of that and suddenly that night turns to tradegy. It’s the news that no family ever wants to receive,” he said. 

Sinn Féin TD for Cavan-Monaghan Matt Carthy said on Twitter yesterday evening that it was “horrendous, heart-wrenching” news.

Carthy added: “A moment of joy and celebration for these young people has turned into a lifetime of devastation for those who loved them. God help the families affected. The prayers of everyone in County Monaghan is with them.”

David Maxwell, Fine Gael councillor and chairperson of Monaghan County Council, said on social media last night: “May all our prayers and thoughts go out to all the families who have lost loved ones tonight, and those who sit with critically ill family members.”

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Niamh Smyth said yesterday evening: “Heartbreaking and tragic loss of live this evening in Clones. My thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and school community at Largy College tonight.” 

Clones Youth Centre said it has dispatched youth workers, recognisable by their red jumpers, on the streets of Clones and Monaghan. The centre was to remain open until 11.30pm yesterday evening.

The grounds of Largy College, in Clones, also remained open until 10.30pm.

The road, between Clones to Smithborough Road, were closed overnight. Garda Forensic Collision Investigators are conducting a technical examination of the scene.

Gardaí in Monaghan are appealing to anyone who may have witnessed this collision to contact them.

Any road users who may have camera footage (including dash-cam) and were travelling on the N54 between Clones and Smithborough yesterday evening between 6.15pm and 7pm are asked to make this footage available to gardaí.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Monaghan Garda Station on 047 77200, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any garda station.

With reporting by Muiris O’Cearbhaill and Press Association