A Golden Leaving Cert student who had plans to celebrate her 18th birthday next week was one of the young people who lost their lives in bank holiday road tragedies.
Claire Prendergast, from Cloughaleigh, Golden, was taking a bank holiday road trip with two friends when the tragic accident happened on Monday morning - plunging her family and friends into deep grief.
At about 11.30am on Monday morning, near Portumna, Co Galway, the vehicle in which she and her friends were travelling was involved in a collision. Claire, who was a front seat passenger, was pronounced dead at the scene, while her friends were taken to Galway University Hospital.
They were travelling in a Nissan Micra when it was in collision with a Mercedes Benz, which was travelling in the opposite direction.
The girls were on their way to Loughrea and had planned to continue to Galway city. They were visiting another friend and former schoolmate from Golden who was in Galway.
Driving conditions in the area were reported to be poor, with rain during the night and morning.
With Claire in the car were her friends Aoife Ivors and Samantha Ryan, both also from Golden. Both girls sat their Leaving Cert in 2010. Samantha is being treated for serious injuries and has been transferred to the Mater Hospital in Dublin.
Four occupants of the second car were also injured.
A popular and well liked girl, Claire was studying for her Leaving Cert at Cashel Community School. She was due to celebrate her 18th birthday during the school’s Halloween break, and had invited friends through her Facebook page, to the party in Golden.
Sadly they will now all be coming together to mark her funeral instead of the planned happy occasion.
Last summer Claire was an entrant in the Queen of the Suir competition in Golden, sponsored by her uncle, Tommy Prendergast, an agricultural contractor.
In 2010 she also took part in the Queen of the Green competition in Rosegreen.
At Cashel Community School Claire was known as a friendly, quiet girl who always had a big smile.
During her Transition Year Claire was involved in the production of the book ‘A blast from the past’ with five of her classmates.
The booklet contained reminiscences from the older people in the town and sold very well.
Last May Claire was with her classmates when they presented a cheque for €1,560 to Cashel Day Care Centre from the proceeds of the book.
She was active at the heart of the school community, taking an important role back stage for the school musicals and at any school functions she could be relied on to help out with the tea and refreshments.
Claire was the only daughter of Dick and Chris Prendergast, who live at Cloughaleigh, between Golden and New Inn. She had one younger brother, Michael, who is Transition Year at CCS.
Dick, a farmer, and Chris, who works with FRS in Cahir, are part of an extended family who are involved in the local community and business, and are all well respected in the area.
Deputy Tom Hayes is a neighbour of the Prendergast family and knows them well. He described Monday’s events as “an awful tragedy,” and described the Golden community as stunned by the sad news.
Claire’s funeral will take place tomorrow (Thursday) at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Golden, at 12 noon, with burial afterwards in Dangan Cemetery.