‘A fabulous fella’: Tributes paid to Limerick rugby ace killed in overnight bridge collision

The late Darren Ryan (left) with his triplet brothers Evan and Gavin. Photo: Facebook

A FATHER of one, well-known in Limerick rugby and Clare GAA circles, died tragically when his minibus struck a bridge on the Limerick-Clare border early this morning (Sunday).

The deceased, named locally as Darren Ryan (30) from Meelick, was a popular minibus contractor transporting customers on camping trips as well as stag and hen tours.

Mr Ryan died after the bus he was driving collided with Athlunkard Bridge, Corbally, at around 2.55am this morning.

Gardaí said Mr Ryan’s body was removed from the scene to University Hospital Limerick where a post mortem would be conducted.

The R463 between St Munchins College secondary school and Shannon Banks, Corbally,  remained closed as Garda Forensic Collision Investigators performed a technical examination of the scene on the bridge.

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Video footage shared on social media following the collision showed the bus leaning sideways across a section of the walled bridge.

On Sunday afternoon the bus, which was lying on its side on one of two traffic lanes on the bridge as Gardaí examined the debris, was winched by a crane onto a recovery truck and tank to a compound to be further examined by Garda forensic collision investigators.

Gardaí appealed for any witnesses or “any road users who may have camera footage (including dashcam)” to make it available to investigating Gardaí at Henry Street Garda Station.

One of triplet boys Mr Ryan, along with his brothers Evan and Gavin, were part of a powerful forward unit with St Munchins RFC and Young Munster RFC in their schools and junior teams.

Their father, Ray Ryan, who operates a coach hire business from their farm in Meelick, had a distinguished sporting career before retiring in 1995 having represented Munster Schools, Munster U20s, and Ireland U21s as well as Bohemians and Young Munster RFC. He also played hurling for Clare at minor, U21, junior, and senior level.

The three brothers followed in their father’s sporting footsteps with Gavin and Evan getting called for U18 Munster Schools trials and lining out for Meelick GAA club, and Darren, also a Meelick GAA clubman, earning Young Munster’s Junior Player of the Year in June 2016, the same year the team defeated Cork Constitution at Independent Park to take ‘Munsters’ first Munster Junior Cup in 17 years.

Poignantly, Darren Ryan died just metres from the playing fields at St Munchins College where he had enjoyed rugby victories alongside his own brothers and teammates within the closely-bonded Munchins rugby fraternity.

Like her triplet brothers did, Dawn Ryan, a care worker with Enable Ireland, brought pride and joy to their parents, Ray and Trish, when she was selected as the 2014 Limerick Rose.

“Darren was the nicest fella, he would have been very involved in St Munchins College rugby team, his family are a very talented and sporting family, they run a farm and a coach hire business in Meelick, they’ve all been high achievers, they’d be inspirational local people,” said a family friend.

“They are a very well-known rugby family, a big Young Munster’s family and very involved in the Meelick GAA club.

“Darren was very fit, a great athlete, he would have played sports all his life, particularly rugby where he played in the forwards.

“Their buses would be on the road the whole time, bringing people in and out of Limerick City.”

Darren Ryan had also been operating a transport service for stag and hen parties, and had recently started transporting people on camping breaks.

“He did a lot of stag, hens, and night time runs for people, he was a real hard grafter, self-employed and he had also started taking people on camping trips,” the family friend added

“He was a fabulous fella, you couldn’t meet nicer, it’s devastating, just shocking.”

Mr Ryan is survived by his partner, his young son Raemie, parents Trish and Ray, sister Dawn, and brothers Evan and Gavin.