Keep up with Armagh i

Personal tributes paid in Council chamber after devastating loss of young life on our roads

Road deaths
Top-left and clockwise: Patrick and Ciera Grimley, Ciera McElvanna, Cathal McCrory and Dylan Vallely

A sense of palpable grief descended on the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council chamber on Monday night as tributes were paid to the many young lives lost on our local roads this month.

The sheer scale of the devastation was laid bare as mentions were made for the loss of husband and wife, Patrick and Ciera Grimley, who leave behind three children. There was also the passing of their friend, Ciara McElvanna – a young mother-of-four – who died as a result of the same accident.

Tributes and sympathies were also paid to the family and friends of 18-year-old Cathal McCrory from Dromore, as well of those of Dylan Vallely from Newtownhamilton – all victims of harrowing road traffic collisions.

SDLP Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon led tributes to the Madden victims of that fateful Gosford Road collision at the beginning of the month.

He said: “In the early hours of Saturday, November 4 three couples were travelling home from a night of celebration for a 40th Birthday Party. They were all travelling home to be with their children. Unfortunately, two of those mummy’s and a daddy didn’t come home.

“As news of the road traffic accident broke over the coming hours, the true horror of that had happened became known. Patrick Grimley (40) lost his life, his wife Ciera (41) and their friend Ciara McElvanna (44) were in hospital fighting for their lives. Despite their best efforts and those of the medical professionals and all the prayers a community could say, it was a fight Ciara McElvanna and Ciera Grimley didn’t win.

“That terrible accident claimed the lives of three wonderful people and three great friends. Others were injured and some remain in hospital. We keep them all in our thoughts and prayers that they recover in both mind and body.

“Patrick Grimley was at the heart of his community and his family. His wife Ciara was a wonderful mummy and also worked as a classroom assistant and childminder. Ciara McElvanna was a highly skilled and hugely respected nurse. The heartfelt tributes paid to each of them demonstrates how much they were loved, respected and admired by their families, community, colleagues, and beyond.

“Each of them was at the heart of the community in Madden. They were all active members of Madden Raparees, Patrick was club secretary and was to be made chairman. They spent countless hours in the local sports filed with their children. The laughed, they cheered and they roared together.

“They revelled in each other’s company, celebrated each other’s successes and the just loved the bones of their wee children.

“It’s easy for those of us in elected office to join with a community in celebration in time of joy but it is heart breaking at times of tragedy as you try and pull together words of comfort. You help in what way we can, but you know no words can ever comfort a family or ease their pain. It is particularly hard in this case, when children lose a parent, or indeed when children lose both parents. Their pain must be unimaginable.

“To see little children, stand by a parent’s graveside is not something anyone wants to see.

“In times of darkness and tragedy, we often find light and comfort. In this instance that light and strength has come through Madden Raparees in particular and the community in Madden, Armagh and indeed the GAA Community across this island and further afield.

“They have been an amazing tower of strength and support at wakes and funerals, they left no stone unturned for the families involved. The support and generosity of the people near and far has been overwhelming.

“Lord Mayor, the families and entire community in Madden have come though some very difficult days and there will be many more in the weeks, months and years ahead.

“This time four weeks we all, God willing, will be surrounded by family and friends on what will be Christmas Day. For the Grimley children; Tagdh, Mya and Cadhla they’ll not have their mummy or daddy to share the joy of Christmas.

“The McElvanna children Niamh, Claire, Dara, and Aoife will have no mummy to turn to when they need help working out how some present from Santa works.

“Lord Mayor, on behalf of the community we all represent; can we extend our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to those injured that they may fully recover from their injuries. Can we thank Madden Rapparees for their unquestionable support and the first responders for their care and compassion at the scene.

“To the Grimley and Geraghty families we extend our deepest sympathies on the loss of Patrick and Ciara. To Ciara McElvanna’s husband Kevin and to the wider McElvanna and Haddock families we extend our deepest sympathies on the loss of Ciara.

“Our words will never be enough and it will never ease their pain, but I hope they know we all keep them in our thoughts and prayers in the time ahead.”

Councillor, Brona Haughey, echoed Councillor O’Hanlon’s sentiments towards the Grimley and McElvanna families. She also took time to pay tribute to Dylan Vallely – a 16-year-old from Newtownhamilton – who passed a couple of weeks after being involved in a collision in Camlough.

“It’s not in our Council area but it has greatly affected a number of people in this council area, as well friends and family there, she said. “So we send our deepest condolences to his family, friends and community at this time.”

Alderman Paul Berry added: “This obviously was a devastating blow to Madden and to their children and to their families. Even further afield, it was devastating. In fact, I would say across the world, it struck a chord with people just because there’s very few words to say on an occasion like this, especially when someone loses their father and their mother.

“In relation to Ciara’s (McElvanna) tragic death, I know Kevin; Kevin’s actually my consultant, and that’s why I’m speaking on this tonight because it wasn’t that about a year ago, Kevin came to the foot of my bed, crossed his fingers and says, ‘Paul, surgery in the morning’. I was just devastated when I heard Kevin had lost his wife, who was a highly respected nurse.

“Obviously our thoughts and prayers to the Grimley family and to the McElvanna family and the wider family, and indeed the community of Madden because of the tragic loss that they have suffered as a result of this and also to the people who also have been injured our prayers will continue with them but the community in general.

“In Markethill – and further afield – people have been devastated by this and mourn the loss of lovely family people – lovely friendly people…who were highly respected to everyone who knew them and as I said, Kevin, I respected him greatly as a consultant and my thoughts and prayers go to him and his family in the days and weeks that lie ahead.”

Councillor Keith Ratcliffe added: “My two daughters actually go to dance school in Richhill with Patrick and Ciera’s (Grimley) daughter and my wife has built a strong friendship over this last two years.

“She got a phone call the next morning explaining what had happened and that Ciera was seriously ill in hospital and unfortunately, as we all know, Ciera passed away. The whole dance school were absolutely devastated as was the wider community so I’d like to express my full sympathy to both families, thoughts and prayers are with them for the months and years ahead.”

Councillor Scott Armstrong also paid tribute on behalf of himself and his party.

Adding: “I have a lot of family and friends who live in the Madden area who have been deeply affected by the events on that fateful evening and I know that as a community they are all still hurting.”

Councillors Kevin Savage and Ian Rankin paid tributes to Cathal McCrory.

Said Councillor Rankin, who is a close neighbour of the McCrory family in Dromore, said: “He was just 18. He was laid to rest last Tuesday, November 21 after a tragic car accident. Dromore came to standstill as hundreds joined the funeral cortege, making its way from the family home. We remain reminded of the fragility of life and the nearness of eternity for us all and our thoughts and prayers are with Cathal’s parents, Peter and Pauline, siblings, wider family and his many friends.”

Lord Mayor, Margaret Tinsley, who was almost brought to tears, thanked all those who paid tributes saying “sometimes it’s hard to go on, isn’t it”.

May they all Rest in Peace.

Sign Up To Our Newsletter

Most read today

More in Armagh