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‘Beyond words’

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LOSS OF LIFEThe scene of the fatal car crash on the N17 outside Claremorris.

Michael Commins

Communities around Erris were reeling with shock yesterday (Monday) when news came through of a fatal road crash near Claremorris that claimed three members of the same family.
Mary Ann Wilson (67), her daughter Marcella and her son Seán (7) from Cross, Binghamstown, Belmullet, lost their lives when their car was in a collision with a lorry at the junction of the old Ballindine Road and the N17, the main road between Galway and Sligo. The lorry was travelling from the Tuam direction towards Charlestown.
The driver, a native of Cavan, was uninjured in the collision. It is understood that the Wilson family may have been on their way to an appointment at Galway Hospital at the time.
The accident happened around 1pm, and Gardaí, the Fire Brigade and emergency teams were on the scene within minutes. The full nature of the tragedy soon became apparent, and Fr Peter Gannon, PP, administered the Last Rites at the scene.
Major diversions were put in place on the N17 as traffic was rerouted for a number of hours in the general Claremorris region.
Mary Ann, formerly McGuinness from Rossport, was married to Joe (Josie) Wilson. Together they had a family of five, sons Noel, Michael and John, and daughters Annette and Marcella.
Mary Ann was also one of a family of five. She is survived by her brothers, Michael McGuinness (Castlebar), Jimmy (Belmullet) and Vincent (Ballycastle), and by her sister, Bridie Sheerin (Claremorris).
Marcella leaves behind three other children, aged from 16 to nine. Seán was the youngest. Her death, along with that of Seán, who was a pupil at Belmullet NS, and her mother Mary Ann, has plunged the Erris region into deep mourning again.

‘Heartfelt tears’
Belmullet-based senator Rose Conway-Walsh said a wave of sadness had washed over the north-mayo region when news broke of the tragic accident in Claremorris. “There is deep shock and sadness all over the region this evening. For an ordinary family to be hit by this enormous tragedy is almost beyond words and understanding.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Wilson family, and our hearts are breaking for them right now. To lose three members in the same accident is just so shocking and tragic and many heartfelt tears are being shed in Erris tonight,” said Rose, who had just visited the Wilson family home.
Teresa Whelan, a county councillor, lives next door to Marcella Wilson and her children and said she was a personal friend and the best neighbour you could have.
“When I began on the council she would bring dinner over to my family when i was at meetings on a Monday. Her children are always in my house, we were great friends, this is heartbreaking, everyone is stunned.”  
Cllr Gerry Coyle said the sad tidings emanating from Claremorris had cast a huge shadow across the Erris era. “The people down here are completely horrified. It is an awful tragedy for the family. They are well-known in the Belmullet area, and it is just unbelievable that three of them lost their lives in this horrific accident. This region has had some terrible tragedies in recent times. Happenings of this nature shake us all to the core.”

Dangerous junction
Local Claremorris resident Cormac Hanley, a former Mayo senior footballer and former county councillor, said he had several near misses at the same crossing over the years. “It can be very difficult to gauge oncoming traffic from both sides when trying to get across the N17. I have had some very close shaves myself.
“It is a dangerous junction. This tragedy brings it home to us just how dangerous it can be. Our hearts go out to the family down in Belmullet who have incurred this terrible loss,” said Cormac.
The chairman of Mayo County Council, Richard Finn (Ind) from Claremorris, said news of the tragedy had resonated not just in the Erris region but all over Mayo and around the country. “Mayo is a close-knit community, and we all join in the condolences to the Wilson family circle at this terribly sad time for all of them,” he said.
The funeral arrangements for the three deceased are as follows: Remains reposing at McDonnell's Funeral Home, Belmullet on Thursday afternoon from 2pm until 5pm and from 6pm until 8pm, arriving to St Joseph's Church, Binghamstown, at 10pm. Funeral Mass is on Friday afternoon at 1pm followed by burial in Cross Cemetery. The home house is strictly private. Family flowers only, donations in lieu if desired to the RNLI and the Coast Guard at Ballyglass, c/o McDonnell Funeral Directors.

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