‘You never know what’s round the next corner’ – priest

The motorcycle-loving clergyman behind the Gone But Not Forgotten Bikers Memorial Mass in Clones has urged his fellow biking enthusiasts to “lay off the throttle” following two fatal crashes over the weekend.

Fr John Kearns acknowledges that, after a near 12-month lay-off, bikers across the country were keen to take advantage of fine weather, dry conditions, and the extension of the 5km travel limit to countywide or 20km if crossing county boundaries.

But at what cost, he asks.

Within the space of an hour late last Saturday afternoon, April 17, gardaí responded to two fatal road traffic accidents.

The first occurred at around 5.10pm when Donegal-native Patrick McGinley collided with a roundabout on the N2 at Tullyvin, near Castleblayney, Co Monaghan.

The popular dad-of-four from the Kilmacrenan area was pronounced dead at the scene. Aged in his 40s, he was a community worker with the Donegal Travelers Project.

The Coroner was notified and his body taken to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, for post-mortem.

Just before 6pm, a little over 70 kilometres away, at Caucestown, Athboy, the authorities were dealing with a second such crash involving a motorcyclist.The male, aged in his 30s and from Dublin, died when his bike collided with a car travelling in the opposite direction on the N51.

Once again, the motorcyclist was pronounced dead at the scene, and his body taken to the mortuary at Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan.

The driver and passenger of the car were treated by paramedics at the scene.

In both cases, the crash sites were preserved for Garda forensic collision investigators and diversions put in place. Investigating gardaí are also appealing for witnesses to the incidents to come forward, including those who may have camera footage. In particularly, officers wish to review dash cam for drivers travelling the N51 between Athboy and Delvin between 5.30pm and 6.30pm, and the N2 near Castleblayney between 4.45pm and 5.30pm.

The crashes happened within 24 hours of An Garda Síochána and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) issuing a joint-statement appealing to motorcycle riders to slow down, ‘ease off the throttle’ and keep within speed limits.

The appeal was made in response to the high number of motorcycle fatalities already seen to date in 2021.

The Monaghan and Meath deaths were numbers seven and eight respectively, and account for a quarter of all deaths (34) on Irish roads this year.

Motorists were also urged to watch out for motorcyclists when using the road.

Fr Kearns believes all road users have a part to play in keeping bikers safe, noting that many drivers have become used to quieter roads during the lockdown period.

He maintains that motorcyclists are one of the most vulnerable groups on the roads, and urges those riding bikes to “slow it down, would ye slow down, slow it down. Lay off the throttle. You'll still make it where you're going, and better still, get there alive.”

An avid biker all his life, like his father before him, Fr Kearns has experienced first hand the devastation left behind.

Even though the Biker Remembrance Mass has not been held due to Covid, he still prays for those who have lost lives in such tragic circumstances, as well as the families left to pick up the pieces.

“Too often. You hear and see it too often. There are times we should pull throttle back, because you never know what's around the next corner. You just don't know. And until you're into the corner, and then it could be too late.”

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