SHOCK and dismay are still palpable in the villages of Louisburgh and Porturlin this week as the tightly-knit communities come to terms with the tragic and sudden deaths, in Louth and Hawaii, of Sergeant Tania Corcoran and Mr John O’Donnell.
Sgt Corcoran was brought up with her brother, Colman, in Louisburgh after her parents Joe, a plumbing contractor, and Barbara, relocated there from Dublin in 1986. Mr O’Donnell was from a well-known north Mayo family and emigrated to the US around 25 years ago.
Sgt Corcoran died in the early hours of last Friday morning (March 10) at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, some hours after undergoing an emergency Caesarean section. She was almost six months pregnant with twins and had been admitted to hospital some days earlier. One of the twins, Zach, died shortly after birth, while Adam still remains in a critical condition.
The 34-year-old was married to Garda Aidan McCabe and they already had one son, Ben.
The HSE are reviewing the circumstances of Sgt Corcoran’s death, while Gardaí will compile a report for the Louth County Coroner, who will hold an inquest into her death.
Tania Corcoran attended Sancta Maria College, Louisburgh where, by all accounts, she was noted for her ‘drive and ambition’, and her ‘warmth and affability’. As well as large numbers of family and friends, hundreds of Gardaí attended her funeral in her husband’s home village of Termonfeckin, County Louth, on Sunday last.
“She was such a lovely girl, so very friendly and a good mixer. Tania was the last person you would ever imagine this happening to, she was so strong. We’re all thinking about her parents and brother, and, of course, her husband and two little boys,” said Achill-based Garda Ronan O’Grady, who was a couple of classes below Tania at Sancta Maria College.
Meanwhile, there were prayers said at Masses in a number of north Mayo churches last Sunday for the recovery of Hawaiian helicopter victim, Mrs Bernie O’Donnell, a native of Inver. Her husband, John, from nearby Porturlin, was killed along with three other people when the Heli USA A-Star 350Ba, in which they were about to tour the tropical island, developed hydraulics problems and plummeted to the ground at Princeville Airport, shortly after take-off.
Sadly, the helicopter tour was part of a 25th wedding anniversary holiday-gift from their two children, Lorraine, 24, a nurse, and David, 23, a Financial Advisor. Both children flew to Hawaii on Friday last to be at their mother’s side. John O’Donnell was a carpenter by trade and later worked as foreman of a construction firm, while Bernie worked in the Winthrop-University Hospital as a Nurse Educator.
They had moved from Queens to Long Island in the last number of years where they had developed a large network of friends, who are, according to reports, devastated by the tragedy.
“The whole parish is shocked by John’s untimely death and we are praying and hoping for Bernie’s recovery. Her family, the McAndrews, are well-known in the area. The couple were regular visitors and returned for John’s father’s funeral, JJ O’Donnell, last year,” said Parish Priest, Fr Michael Nallen.
John’s brother is married to Bernie’s sister and they too live in the US, while John’s mother, a native of Cork, still lives in Porturlin and visited the couple last Christmas.