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Locals grieve after one of worst tragedies to befall Co Tipperary town

Locals are struggling to make sense of the tragic loss of four young people in a Co Tipperary town, in what is being referred to as its worst tragedy in living memory.

Luke McSweeney, his sister Grace McSweeney, Zoey Coffey and Nicole Murphy died after the car they were travelling in overturned and hit a stone wall in Clonmel.

The incident happened on Friday night as Luke McSweeney drove them to a bus that would take the girls to Carlow to celebrate their Leaving Certificate results.

A principal said that as news filtered through of the crash, those who were travelling to Carlow to celebrate turned back home to grieve.

Co Tipperary fatal crash
Flowers and tributes left at the wall in Clonmel, Co Tipperary (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dozens of bouquets have been left at the wall near the entrance to Loreto Secondary School, where Ms Murphy had attended, which is around the corner from the scene of the crash.

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Young people approached the wall of flowers in groups, comforting each other as they come to terms with the scale of the loss.

On Sunday morning, Loreto classmates of Ms Murphy gathered for a service to remember the four young people who had lost their lives.

A similar service was held in Presentation Secondary School, where Ms McSweeney and Ms Coffey had attended.

After the Mountain Road reopened on Sunday morning, locals began leaving flowers at the scene of the crash, on a corner of a narrow road that leads to the Hillview Sports Club.

Shards of glass from a car window were seen in the crevices of the stone wall, now adorned with flowers, notes and candles.

People pulled their cars over and stood in front of the flower display, blessing themselves and paying their respects to the four young lives lost.

Locals Christine Mulcahy and Christina Whelan said they do not remember a tragedy this bad in Clonmel before.

Co Tipperary fatal crash
Flowers and tributes left at the scene in Clonmel (Brian Lawless/PA)

“Not that bad, this is the first tragedy that bad,” 92-year-old Ms Mulcahy said.

She said it was “an awful pity”.

“To go out and enjoy yourself and end up in a coffin. It’s terrible, isn’t it. Dreadful.”

She said a relative of hers who was in school with one of the Leaving Cert students has been left speechless by the tragedy.

Ms Whelan said the weather was very bad on the night, and that the parents of Luke and Grace McSweeney live “only up the road”.

She said: “Their parents are living up there, they’ll have to pass (the site of the crash) every day of the week.”

Catherine, who is from Co Galway, said her daughter got married in Clonmel on Friday night and the family were celebrating in Hillview, located on the other side of the wall.

“To think we were over there celebrating,” she said, adding that the news filtered through to the guests around midnight.

“It’s so sad.”