Tears for beautiful new mum (26) killed in crash
The young woman who was killed in a motorway crash the day after having her first baby has been remembered as a smiling, fun-loving girl who used to go into work on her day off to help out.
Nicola Kenny (26), from Thurles, Co Tipperary, was travelling to Dublin after her day-old daughter Lily-Rose was transferred to Temple Street Hospital because of concerns for her health.
However, while making the journey, Nicola - who was with her mother, Ann, and aunt, Irene - received a phone call from the hospital.
They pulled in to the hard shoulder to take the call, which was the good news that Lily-Rose was recovering well and was about to be transferred back to Clonmel Hospital, where she had been born.
It was just after the conversation ended that a truck smashed into the back of the car, killing back-seat passenger Nicola and seriously injuring her mother and aunt.
The driver of the truck was arrested at the scene and later released. A file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Gardai are examining the truck's tachograph to ensure the driver had taken all appropriate rest periods.
Tachographs are instruments that measure the amount of time a driver is on the road and record engine speeds over a period.
They are fitted in the cabs of commercial trucks and are used to monitor compliance with driver hours legislation. Digital tachographs became mandatory in new commercial lorries and buses in 2006.
Friends and neighbours of the Kenny family are trying to console them following the tragedy.
At her local Tesco store where Nicola worked, manager Robert Foley said the news of her death had been met with disbelief.
"It's been an emotional roller-coaster in the shop as it has been in Thurles and the county of Tipperary," he said.
"We were all on a high after the success of the hurling teams in the All-Ireland, and then we were back to reality with the shock of this.
"Nicola was a beautiful, bubbly, friendly young lady. She had been working here since 2008, so everybody knew her and she knew all the customers. We were like a second family to her, I suppose. The staff are terribly upset, and the customers have been in telling us how sorry they were to hear the news.
"I gathered her friends together here from Tesco and we had a good chat. There were tears shed too as we all shared our memories of her.
"The one thing I remember personally is just how friendly she was, with a constant smile.
"If there was ever a time I'd be pulling her up on something I wouldn't last a minute because she would just be smiling at you the whole time. She could get away with anything.
"She was always in here in Tesco. Even on her days off she would be in chatting with her friends and helping customers out."
At the Ursuline Secondary School, where Nicola was a pupil until 2007, principal Mary Butler also remembered her fondly. "She was a larger than life character with a wide circle of friends. Nicola was full of mischief and fun and had a big heart," she said.
"All her family have been involved in the school. Her grandmother was a pupil here too, and they were all musical and loved sport. It's a terrible loss."
In her school yearbook, Nicola dreamed of opening her own hair salon, and said her happiest memory was her involvement in the chess team.
She also said she had admired one teacher in particular because he was "funny and sarcastic".
Nicola finished her yearbook entry by wishing all her classmates well, and ended with her catchphrase at the time: "Oh my God, that's so cheesy."
Thurles was still decorated yesterday in the blue and yellow of the Tipperary minor and senior teams that won their All-Ireland titles on Sunday - the day Nicola gave birth to Lily-Rose.
The Kenny family had been enjoying the day, not least because Nicola's grandfather was triple All-Ireland winner Paddy Kenny, who played with the county from the late 1940s to the early 1960s.
He was part of the famous Tipp team that won three All-Ireland titles in a row from 1949 to 1951.
On Sunday there was a new addition to the Kenny family and the Liam McCarthy Cup was travelling back to Tipp.
But on Monday the celebrations were cruelly cut short on the M8, near Dogstown.
Local representatives said the shocking news had put the celebrations of the sporting successes on the back burner.
Fianna Fail TD Jackie Cahill said the news had numbed Thurles.
"Nicola's family are respected in the town and the county, especially with her grandfather's success for Tipperary and her brother Paddy's links with hurling locally," he said.
"All our prayers and sympathies are with the family."
Nicola's removal takes place in Thurles tonight at 7.30pm to the Cathedral of the Assump- tion and her funeral is tomorrow at 11am.