Tuesday 20 March 2018

'Lovely man', say neighbours of 84-year-old who died after fall in snow

The home where John Mahoney lived, in Nurney, Co Kildare
The home where John Mahoney lived, in Nurney, Co Kildare

An elderly man fell in the snow and succumbed to the bitter cold just metres from his home during Storm Emma.

The 84-year-old, who has been named locally as John Mahoney, was heard calling for help on Sunday morning after he slipped near the entrance of his home in the rural village of Nurney, Co Kildare.

A local farmhand told the Herald that a woman walking her dog heard Mr Mahoney's cries for help and immediately alerted emergency services.

"I don't know what he was doing out of his house, but as he was walking down the lane he must have slipped and couldn't get back up," he said.

"He started calling for help and a dog walker came to his assistance and called an ambulance.

"I don't think he was lying out in the snow for very long, but to be honest it wouldn't have taken very long for the freezing temperatures to cause serious damage," he said.

Mr Mahoney, described as a "perfect gentleman", was rushed to St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny, but was pronounced dead a short time later.

Details are still emerging but early indications are that he may have died from hypothermia.

The farmhand, who did not want to be named, added that Nurney had seen excessive snowfall over the past few days.

"It's thawing out now, but the roads were very bad during the last few days. It's very sad to hear about John, but I knew him as a lovely man who was very intelligent."

News of the death came after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he feared people could be found dead in their homes in the aftermath of the storm.


Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTE Radio 1 yesterday, he said: "That's [finding people dead in their homes] my fear.

"I didn't intend to cause any undue alarm but it is a definite possibility in the days ahead as we gain access to homes in some of the areas that have been cut off."

Carlow councillor Andy Gladney said that although Mr Mahoney lived alone, he was very well taken care of by his community.

"It's such a tragedy, but I can confidently say that John was really looked after by his neighbours," he said.

"He was just one of these great characters and would have a word for everyone."

Meanwhile, large parts of the country remain on high-alert with treacherous road conditions forecast, fears of flooding after snow melts and widespread water restrictions.

An orange warning remains in place across Leinster until this morning, with concerns that a combination of deep snow and a thaw causing localised flooding will pose risks, along with potential for frost and icy night-time conditions.

"Temperatures will recover a little more," Met Eireann forecaster Joan Blackburn said. "They will be in the region of 4°C to 7°C during the day but that is cold for this time of year."

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