Deaths of mother and daughters in crash an unspeakable tragedy, says coroner

Úna Bowden (47) and her daughters, Saoirse ((10) and Ciara (14) died after collision in Co Mayo

The deaths of a woman and her two young daughters in a crash on the N17 in Co Mayo was “an unspeakable tragedy”, an inquest has heard.

Pat O’Connor, coroner for the District of Mayo, presided over the opening of an inquest into the deaths of Úna Bowden (47) and her daughters, Saoirse ((10) and Ciara (14).

The Bowdens, who lived near Moycullen, Co Galway, died in a collision between their car and an articulated lorry on the N17 near Claremorris, last March.

Medical evidence was given to a brief hearing on Monday morning about the identities of the deceased and the medical cause of their deaths. All three victims could only be identified from the results of DNA tests, the inquest heard.


Consultant pathologist Dr Fadel Bennani testified that the cause of death of all three victims was extensive head and body injuries due to a road traffic incident.

Before adjourning the inquest to an unspecified date to allow gardaí continue their investigations into the cause of the crash, Mr O’Connor described the triple deaths as “an unspeakable tragedy”.

“It is an unspeakable tragedy for the family and the community to lose three young people in the prime of their lives,” Mr O’Connor said.

He said the crash focused attention on the safety of the N17 in south Mayo, what should be regarded as one of the best roads in the region.

The coroner commended first responders who attended the scene and others who assisted as well as medical and mortuary staff at Mayo University Hospital.

Echoing the coroner’s comments, Sergeant Sean McHale also said it had been a very traumatic experience for those motorists who came on the scene of the crash.

He said that the loss of Saoirse and Ciara was being deeply felt by their school friends in Moycullen.