Bouquets of flowers, car parts, and a blackened road verge mark the spot on the Tullamore to Geashill road where last Friday evening four young Portarlington men lost their lives in a horrific head on collision.
Poignant messages written on those bouquets show the grief and pain of their families and friends.
Among them is one from the Doyle brothers’ mother Mary, who will today (August 15) have to say goodbye to her three “beautiful babies” in a triple funeral.
“To our beautiful babies. We love you always and you’ll always be with us,” it reads.
Darren Doyle, aged 27, leaves behind his two year old son Sean and three month old daughter Kayla, as well as his partner Mary Duff and her two older children. She left a bouquet of lilies with a heartbreaking message at the roadside.
“Babe I’m really lost without you, I’ll never let the kids forget you. Love you 4ever, your soul mate Mary xxx,” it read.
Part of the new generation of Portarlington citizens who moved from Dublin during the housing boom, the Doyle brothers Darren, David, aged 24, and Ryan, aged 17, were not well known to many local people, but the town was still reeling in shock, and sympathy for their families as they cope with their unimaginable loss. They are grieving too for the family of Lee Bryan, a Clondalkin native who had lived in Portarlington since he was a teenager.
A Port lady who was collecting for Laois Hospice in the town last Saturday, said many people were talking about the tragedy.
“I didn’t know them, but it was just devastating hearing about it, it’s absolutely awful,” she said.
A shop assistant at the Centra shop on the Tullamore road, where all four young men were customers, knew Lee particularly well.
“We all know Lee. He was so friendly, he would always have a chat and a laugh, he was only playing a soccer tournament last weekend,” she said sadly.
Noel Kelly, Secretary of Gracefield Soccer Club, says they are devastated at his death.
“Lee was a popular lad, he was a striker for the team since we restarted the club in 2009. The few lads that were closest to him are absolutely devastated. We lost another player earlier in the year, Ciaran McEvoy, we were just coming to terms with that. Lee had great speed and an eye for the goal, he was one of only ten players to win all four medals since we started,” he said.
The club have called off their first game of the new season planned for next Sunday, as a mark of respect.
Laois County Council Cathaoirleach, Cllr Paul Mitchell.
“There is a dark cloud hanging over the town. No words can describe the anguish the families of these four young men are going through. My heart goes out to them and I don’t know how they will ever get over their loss. But I do know that the community of Portarlington will support them,” he said.
Offaly County Councillor Cllr Eddie Fitzpatrick extended sympathy to the Doyle and Bryan families on their ‘tragic loss’ and he wished the driver of the Slieve Bloom Coaches mini-bus and passengers who were injured ‘a speedy recovery’.