Mayo crash: Community in ‘state of shock and sadness’ as tributes paid to mother and daughters killed on N17

Una Bowden died at scene of incident on N17 near Claremorris along with Ciara (14) and Saoirse (9) on Tuesday

Tributes have been paid to Una Bowden (47) and her daughters Ciara (14) and Saoirse (9) who were killed in a fatal collision in Co Mayo on Tuesday.

The incident occurred on the N17, a short distance from Claremorris, at about 2pm on Tuesday, when the car driven by Ms Bowden was involved in a collision with an articulated lorry. They lived in Gortachalla near Moycullen, a Gaeltacht area in west Galway. Relatives of the deceased have been informed.

David Bowden, Una’s husband and father of Ciara and Saoirse, was travelling back to Ireland. He is a project manager with the United Nations and had been working on a humanitarian project in the Tigray area of Ethiopia.

Una Bowden was originally from Co Donegal and lived with her husband in Africa for a number of years before moving to Galway. Ciara was in first year of secondary school, while Saoirse was a primary school pupil.


Postmortems of the three deceased took place on Wednesday morning at Mayo University Hospital, but the results of these will not be released for operational reasons.

The lorry driver involved was uninjured.

Incoming taoiseach Simon Harris said that it was an “extraordinarily dark and devastating day for Mayo”.

“I want to extend my condolences. I do know that at a time of tragedy everyone will rally and support people in their grief, of course, on wider road safety issues, this is something I want to take an active interest in, I am very conscious that we are losing far too many lives on our roads,” he said.

Moycullen Basketball Club said in a statement: “It is with enormous sadness that Cumann Cispheile Mhaigh Cuilinn has learned of the tragic deaths of our neighbours and clubmates Una, Ciara, and Saoirse Bowden. The Bowdens were active in many sports throughout our community.

“Ciara had been selected for the Galway Area girls under-14 basketball team. The thoughts and prayers of everyone in Cumann Cispheile Mhaigh Cuilinn are with the family, friends, and teammates of the Bowden family. We cannot possibly fathom their grief but we send them our love and support. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h’anam dílis.”

Oughterard Rugby Club, where the family had been involved with the girls rugby teams, paid tribute, saying: “Our thoughts and prayers in Oughterard Rugby are with father of the girls and husband to Una, David, their extended family, friends, teammates and neighbours of the Bowden family. We send them all our love and support at this very difficult time.”

The Bowdens were also involved with Cumann Iománaíochta Mhaigh Cuilinn, which offered its condolences to their family and friends.

Richard Finn, an independent councillor based in Claremorris, said the local community was “in a state of shock and sadness”.

He expressed condolences with the family and relatives of the woman and two young girls. Mr Finn also paid tribute to the efforts of the emergency services who responded to the incident.

Michael Loftus, Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, said that Tuesday was a “dark day” for Co Mayo, referencing both the N17 crash and the deaths of two pensioners, Tom and Eileen Mahon, in a house fire in Swinford.

“The county had five deaths in one day,” Mr Loftus said. “It’s unprecedented.

“Regardless of where they are from, they are from a community that’s been devastated,” he said of the crash victims.

He said his thoughts and prayers were with their bereaved family members.

Fr Peter Gannon, a priest in Claremorris, said that Tuesday had been a “dark and miserable day”, but when news of the crash broke, “it got much darker than that”.

He said that there has been a number of fatal crashes along the same stretch of road down through the years. “The road has claimed a lot of lives.”

Gardaí have appealed for witnesses to the collision to come forward and have asked social media users to desist from sharing images of the crash scene.

As of Wednesday morning, 54 people have died on Irish roads since the start of this year.

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher is an Irish Times journalist

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times