Two Clonmel brothers injured in horror
rally crash

Sian Moloughney

Sian Moloughney

Two Clonmel brothers who had travelled to Cavan as spectators at last weekend’s car rally are among those who were seriously injured when one of the competing cars spun out of control and into the crowd.

Brothers Michael and John Looby, originally from Kilmore, near Monroe, were hospitalised with life threatening injuries in the wake of Sunday morning’s crash.

Michael’s injuries are said to be critical but stable in Dublin’s Beaumount Hospital, however John is described as fighting for his life in hospital.

John was taken to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda on Sunday, and it was expected he would be transferred to Dublin early this week.

The tragic accident claimed the lives of two other spectators, race photographer Joe Lane, from Co Galway, and Wexford woman Caroline Cleary, who was pregnant with her first child.

Michael and John are the sons of popular couple Michael and Joan Looby, of Kilmore, Clonmel.

Michael, in his late 30s, is married with two children, and lives in Clonmel, he works at Pinewood Healthcare. John, in his early 30s, lives at the family home in Kilmore, Lisronagh.

The brothers have been keen rally supporters for many years.

Sunday morning’s dreadful accident happened when a Ford Escort taking part in the Cavan Stages Rally is believed to have gone out of control and ploughed into a group of 30 spectators, near the town of Bailieborough, just after 11am.

The car is thought to have lost control as it crested a hill, its wheels landed on a grass verge before skidding on its side through a wooden garden fence, where the spectators had gathered.

More than 100 cars, from all over Ireland, were to compete in the event.

Two investigations have begun into the accident, by the gardai and also Motorsport Ireland, who released a statement saying: “Motorsport Ireland and its affiliated clubs recognised internationally for operating to the highest standards of motor sport safety for competitors and spectators in line with the best practice of the FIA.”

While rally car fatalities are relatively rare in Ireland, the crash has led to renewed calls for more safety in the sport of rallying.

The Tipperary Light Car and Motorcycle Club organise two rallies in the local area each year - the Sean Conlon Memorial Forestry Rally in Mitchelstown on July 8, and the very popular Stonethrowers Rally, which will be held in the Clonmel area in August.