Lovers of some of the dead and injured on the state’s roads joined members of the clergy, the Gardaí and emergency services in a number of ceremonies on Sunday to mark the UN’s World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.
About 150 relatives of the dead since registration began in 1959 brought photos of the deceased, lit candles and hung the names of their loved ones on a tree, in a moving ceremony at St Francis of Assisi Church, Priorswood, in the north of Dublin.
Father Bryan Shorthall said the congregation were members of a unique community, united by experience and grief, who taught the importance of solidarity “and how important it is that we can support each other”.
He recalled the death of a 15-year-old girl, a fifth-year student at Coolmine Community School, down the road several years ago and the sense of tragedy, loss and loss felt throughout the school as a result.
Chief Supt John Gordon represented the Garda, Dublin Fire Brigade was represented by District Officer Martin O’Reilly and the HSE Ambulance Service was represented by North Leinster and Dublin Ambulance Officer Fergus Murray.
As the service ended, Ciara Murray of Liam Lawton’s Our Lady Gospel Choir sang Glasnevin Angels as family members gathered to light candles in memory of those who had lost them.
After the service, Kathleen and Jason Doyle, who attended with their children, said the service was very special, as she lost a brother to a road accident in 1993, when he was just 10 years old.
Mrs. Doyle, who herself was only a teenager at the time of her brother’s death, had driven the car in which he lost his life. She herself only suffered scratches.
Martin Stokes of Priorswood said he was there in memory of his cousin Martin O’Donnell, who was murdered in Finglas in 2010. Mr Stokes said he went to church most Sundays and found the memorial service quite emotional.
Monica Wakefield of Donaghmede said she had lost a two-year-old sister to a road accident “probably before the records started”.
On November 15, 24,663 people have died on the state’s roads since registration began in 1959. Since 1977, when registration began, 84,977 people have been seriously injured, according to the Road Safety Authority.
The authority held a special event at the Museum of Modern Literature in Dublin last week for relatives of those killed and those seriously injured. The event can be viewed on the RSA Facebook page.
On Sunday evening, municipal buildings across the country will be lit as part of the memorial, and property owners have been asked to place a memorial light in their windows from 7 p.m.