Gene McDonald (left) and Dáire Maguire (right).

Fundraiser nears €30k goal for families

Friends of the late Gene McDonald and Daire Maguire who lost their lives following an accident in the Sligo Rally have raised close to €30,000 to support the families of both men “in this very difficult time”.

The fundraiser is being held with the blessing of both the families of Gene (35) from Barraghy, Cootehill, and his fellow driver Daire Maguire (46) from Lisnaskea who lost their lives when the car in which they were competing in the rally hit a wall.

Damien O’Reilly and Ronan Kelly, both from Maudabawn, are behind the fundraiser.

Gene was a lifelong friend to both men.

“We grew up together, we did everything together, and we all had an interest in motorsport,” says Damien, who describes news filtering through of the crash and Gene and Daire’s untimely passing as “devastating for everyone, no more than for their families”.

The weekend of the planned memorial fundraiser, September 2, is also the date that Gene was suppose to have attended a ‘stag-do’ in Westport, Co Mayo, a wedding at which he was selected to be groomsman.

“It’s hard to start thinking about stags or anything at a time like this, and we were debating whether to go ahead or not, but we know that’s not what the two men would have wanted, so we decided to climb Croagh Patrick in honour of them on the trip.”

The idea to fundraise for both families came a natural second to the memorial climb, something which could yet turn into an annual event explains Damien, who says: “The families are getting on with it as best they can, we all are.”

“Everyone has family of their own and we know, if this was the other way round, they’d have done the same for us. No two better men for supporting their friends and, as friends, we want to do what we can to help support their families now, ease the burden in any way we can at this very difficult time.”

Damien, who is best man at the upcoming wedding, says Gene and Daire died “doing what they loved”.

But there was an acknowledged kinship beyond that even.

“Gene was the heart and soul of the party, and Daire was just a lovely gentle man. Both shared their love of motorsport, it’s what brought them together. They also shared their love of their families, which is another thing both men had in common with each other. They were great family men.”

The numbers set to climb are “unknown” at this moment in time. Just 15 are set to attend the stag itself, but the memorial has been opened up beyond the group to include friends and family of both men should they wish to attend.

Damien says the idea of honouring the memory of both men going forward is being “talked about”.

“This has gathered momentum, it’s probably too soon to be talking about what we might be doing, but definitely it has been talked about and there is the interest there.”

Gene McDonald is survived by his partner Justine and their daughters, family and friends.

Daire Maguire is survived by his wife Breda, his children Meghan and Christopher, his parents Eamonn and Bernie, family and friends.

To donate visit ‘Memorial Fundraiser for Gene & Daires family’ on gofundme.