One person ‘seriously injured’ as car drives into crowd at Dundalk cemetery

Car then drove out of blessing of graves ceremony and collided with parked cars

Several hundred people were gathered in St Patrick’s cemetery on Sunday for the blessing of the graves. Image: @Simonc46176551/Twitter

Several hundred people were gathered in St Patrick’s cemetery on Sunday for the blessing of the graves. Image: @Simonc46176551/Twitter

 

One person has been seriously injured after a car drove into a crowd in a cemetery in Dundalk, Co Louth.

Several other people received minor injuries during the incident, according to gardaí.

After the incident, the dark coloured car drove out of the cemetery and collided with a number of parked cars on the road outside before coming to a stop.

A man in his late 20s, believed to be the driver was arrested at the scene. He is currently detained at Dundalk Garda station under the provisions of Section 4 - Criminal Justice Act 1984.

The man who was seriously injured in the cemetery has been taken to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. It is understood he struck his head when he fell to the ground. His injuries were not thought to be life threatening and he was said to be conscious and talking before leaving the graveyard.

Several hundred people were gathered in St Patrick’s cemetery on Sunday for the annual blessing of the graves ceremony when the incident occurred.

Fr Mark O’Hagan, parish priest of St Patrick’s parish, Dundalk, said he shouted at people to “get off the footpath” as a car was driven at speed through the cemetery in the town on Sunday afternoon.

He said he was left shaking after the experience.

“I was on the podium and it was near the end of the service when I heard screaming and shouting. I looked to my left and could see people running, screaming and shouting.”

He said someone shouted at him to phone for an ambulance.

He turned and saw “a car going at speed through the graveyard”.

He rang for an ambulance and for gardaí and said he told them “there is a mad man in the graveyard flying through at speed”.

He said that the car flew past him and into the car park where it struck a number of cars before trying to head back down the way it came.

Fr O’Hagan said he put his hand out as if to try and stop it and the car then tried to mount the kerb towards him and he ran out of the way.

“It was a worst nightmare, it was just frightful,” he said.

Simon Conroy, a member of the public who witnessed the incident, told The Irish Times a car drove into the cemetery, and then accelerated towards the podium. After colliding with a number of people, the car turned around and sped back out of the area, he said.

The car’s engine revved loudly as it drove towards the stage set up at the front of the service, and the collision appeared intentional,” Mr Conroy said.

The incident took place shortly before 4pm, not long after the service had started.

A number of ambulances arrived at the scene shortly after the incident to treat those injured.

Mr Conroy said the collision was “very frightening,” and it was fortunate more people had not been seriously injured.

“There were a lot of children crying, it was frightening. In the moments afterwards there was a lot of confusion,” he said. People were first told to remain where they were, and were then told to disperse, he said.

He described seeing the car drive up towards the podium where the priest was speaking, before accelerating towards the crowd. The car’s engine was at “full tilt” as it drove into the crowd, he said.

“The graveyard was full of people,” he said, estimating there may have been up to 1,000 gathered for the service.

In a statement, gardaí said a small number of people received superficial injuries during the incident.

“A man in his late 20s, believed to be the driver was arrested at the scene. He is currently detained at Dundalk Garda station under the provisions of Section 4 - Criminal Justice Act 1984,” the statement said.