Tributes paid to local builder killed in Tralee building collapse

Tom Ross (68) described as ‘a gentle giant with the heart of a lion’ and a skilled builder

 

Tributes have been paid to a well-known builder in Tralee Co Kerry who died on Saturday when the building he was working on partially collapsed.

Initial reports suggest Tom Ross (68) was on the ground floor of the three-storey building he had been renovating and was consulting with a colleague when the chimney came crashing down.

Tributes have been paid to local builder Tom Ross (68) who died after part of a building collapsed on Ashe Street in Tralee. Photograph: Domnick Walsh
Tributes have been paid to local builder Tom Ross (68) who died after part of a building collapsed on Ashe Street in Tralee. Photograph: Domnick Walsh

Mr Ross was pronounced dead at the scene. Five other workers on the site were taken to hospital where they were treated for injuries.

The internal collapse happened shortly after 8am and the Health and Safety Authority is conducting an investigation.

A number of units of the fire service attended the scene along with ambulances and gardaí. The injured were removed to University Hospital Kerry.

A view of the site in Tralee, Co Kerry where well-known local builder Tom Ross (68) died on Saturday. Photograph: Domnick Walsh
A view of the site in Tralee, Co Kerry where well-known local builder Tom Ross (68) died on Saturday. Photograph: Domnick Walsh

Garry O’Donnell of the Baily’s Corner bar in nearby Castle Street described Mr Ross as a gentle giant. “I will miss him terribly. The whole town of Tralee will miss him. He was a gentle giant with the heart of a lion.”

He also noted his expertise as a builder and said there were few building projects, including some challenging ones where the old mortar facades have to be retained because of preservation orders, which Mr Ross was not involved with in Tralee over the past three decades.

“No job was too small for him,” Mr O’Donnell said.

“We would all classify Tom as a huge figure. An air of gloom has descended on Tralee,” he added.

Mr Ross was originally from a small holding in west Cork and went to England as a very young man before returning to work in the building trade.

Mayor of Tralee Labour party councillor Terry O’Brien said there was shock and sadness in the town following the death.

“We are very, very sad here in Tralee. We are very shocked at what has happened in the middle of our town.” He said it was particularly sad in the run-up to Christmas.