herald

Sunday 25 September 2016

Bride's father dies just hours after walking her down aisle

tragedy

Tommy O'Brien
Tommy O'Brien

A stunned bride watched on as her dad collapsed on the dance floor and later died from a suspected heart attack at the height of her wedding celebrations last Saturday night.

Karen O'Brien was sharing the dance floor with her 70-year-old father, Tommy O'Brien, and the wedding party at around 9.30pm when he collapsed shortly after the band started playing.

Hours earlier, Mr O'Brien had walked his only daughter up the aisle to marry Mike O'Halloran in a day of celebration for the two families and the tight-knit community of Quin, which is situated seven miles from Ennis, Co Clare.

The dance floor at the Bunratty Castle Hotel at Bunratty was cleared and celebrations were ended, however, to allow an off-duty nurse and others work with the aid of a defibrillator to try to revive the grand-dad before an ambulance and paramedics arrived.

However, father-of-two Mr O'Brien never regained consciousness and he was pronounced dead at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) later that night.

Mr O'Brien's wife, Noreen, and only son Eoin were present when he collapsed.

Karen - still in her wedding dress - and other members of the O'Brien family travelled to UHL to be with Mr O'Brien.

Karen and her husband Mike had booked a honeymoon to Mexico but are instead preparing for Mr O'Brien's funeral mass at the church they got married in and burial at the family plot at Quin Abbey tomorrow.

numb

Local man Sonny Scanlan had just arrived at the hotel last Saturday when he was met by crowds of people leaving the function room and he was told what had just happened.

Mr Scanlan said yesterday that the village is "numb and dumb-founded".

The retired Fine Gael councillor said that Mr O'Brien was on a waiting list for a heart bypass operation.

"Tommy was very much involved in the community. He was a very popular man and he got on with everyone. It is very sad for the family and is just awful what has happened," he said.

Friend of the family and local shop owner Ger O'Halloran said that "there is as much a sense of shock in Quin today as there is a sense of loss".

"The very unfortunate set of events make Tommy's passing even more difficult," he added.

Mr O'Halloran is chairman of local soccer club Rhine Rovers, which recently made Tommy 'Life President' in honour of his contribution to the club over 34 years.

"Tommy was absolutely thrilled to get that honour and it was so well deserved. He was a founding member," he said.

Mr O'Halloran said that Tommy was "very involved in life" and was a corner back in the local team that won the county junior hurling championship in 1978.

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