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Latest: Prayer ceremony to be held for American couple who died in Killarney jaunting accident

By Anne Lucey

Update 4.49pm: Prayers are being said this afternoon in the open near Kate Kearney's Cottage at the entrance to the Gap of Dunloe, Killarney, for the American couple who lost their lives in an accident involving the pony and trap in which they were travelling through the famous beauty spot on Monday afternoon.

The deceased have been named as Rosalyn Joy Few and her partner Normand Larose, both in their 60s and both residents of Arizona.

They died when the pony and trap in which they were travelling suddenly left the road around two miles from Kate Kearney's Cottage.

Ms Few's daughter and son-in-law and two grandchildren were on the trip through the Gap with them, in separate traps.

They are being supported in the hotel in Killarney in which the party were vacationing by a garda liaison officer, local hoteliers and members of the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism as well as local politicians including the mayor of Killarney, Cllr Niall Kelleher who has offered his support and condolences.

Rosalyn Joy Few and Normand Larose. Picture via Facebook

A spokesperson for the 30 pony-and-trap operators in the Gap of Dunloe, Paul Cremin, said the family of the deceased had been informed and the prayer ceremony by local retired priest Fr Paddy O'Donoghue from Killarney was a mark of respect.

Everyone was deeply shocked at what occurred on Monday, Mr Cremin said.

"At this time for all involved, we would like to extend our deepest condolences to the victims' families on the terrible tragedy that occurred yesterday. We are shocked and saddened at the events that unfolded and we will do whatever we can to support the family and our injured colleague at this difficult time," Mr Cremin said.

The pony men did not operate today, as a mark of respect.

Photo: Don MacMonagle

Update 2.15: The couple killed in yesterday's pony-and-trap accident in Kerry have been named as Rosalyn Few and Normand Larose.

Ms Few was American and 64-years-old, while her partner Mr Larose was from Canada and was in his 60s.

A book of condolence has been opened at the Killarney Town Hall.

The pony men who run services in the Gap of Dunloe did not operate today out of respect.

Speaking to RTÉ on behalf of the pony-and-trap operators, Paul Cremins said the community is shocked and saddened by the event.

He said they would do whatever they can to support the family of the victims and their colleague.

Update 10.20am: Post-mortem examinations are expected to be carried out today in Co. Kerry on the bodies of a couple in their sixties, tourists on a trip of a lifetime, who died after the horse and trap in which they were travelling through the Gap of Dunloe, near Killarney “left the road” for some reason at lunchtime on Monday afternoon.

The road through the mountains has re-opened today after detailed forensic examinations were carried out. The trap has been taken into garda possession for examination.

Gardai are still waiting to inform some family members in the USA of the deaths. Locally, Killarney gardai have assigned a Garda liaison officer to help family members who are staying in a Killarney hotel deal with the tragedy and the formalities and arrangements that now have to be made.

The dead woman and her partner were from Arizona and were in the lead party of three traps carrying family members were coming down the narrow mountain pass towards Kate Kearney’s Cottage when the accident occurred.

They were around 100 yards after a stone bridge , coming down an incline, at the time.

Gardai do not believe the horse bolted or collided with an object. For some reason, the horse, who was experienced, lost his footing, stumbled and went over the edge.

“There is nothing to suggest he was spooked at this stage,” a garda source said.

The trap driver, referred to locally as a ponyman, normally sits at the rear of his trap, near the narrow door and in this case, the ponyman, a local man in his 40s, managed to exit as the trap went down the circa 20 ft decline onto rocks.

The man and woman died instantly, gardai said, and the injured horse was put down at the scene.

The extremely shocked ponyman received medical attention at University Hospital Kerry and was later released.

Supt Flor Murphy, of Killarney Gardai, said a trip of a lifetime in one of the most beautiful parts of the country had turned to sadness.

“it is very, very sad. It is very, very tragic. We just don’t know why the horse and cart went off the road at that point,” Supt Murphy said.

He paid tribute to the volunteers of the Kerry Mountain Rescue who helped gardai in the recovery of the bodies in difficult and challenging conditions.

Photo: Don MacMonagle

Supt Murphy extended the condolences of the gardai and the emergency services and the residents of the Black Valley, to the family of the deceased.

Locally, the hotels federation in Killarney, the chamber of commerce and tourism the mayor of Killarney are offering their assistance to the family and to the management of the Killarney hotel where the woman’s daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren are staying.

Garda investigations are continuing. Gardai wish to appeal for witnesses to contact Killarney Garda Station on 064 6671160, The Garda Confidential Telephone Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.

The Gap of Dunloe trip, which is a daylong trip by boat from Ross Castle and through the three lakes and by pony and trap down the Gap is rated as one of the top trips in the country on Trip Advisor and other websites and is one of the most sought after by American tourists.

Two US tourists die in jaunting car accident

By Anne Lucey

The bodies of two American tourists being removed from the scene of an accident at The Gap of Dunloe, Killarney, yesterday. Pic: Don MacMonagle

Two American tourists killed in a freak accident involving a jaunting car at the Gap of Dunloe in Co Kerry are understood to be from Phoenix, Arizona.

The dead couple was in a group that included the woman’s daughter and son-in-law, and the latter couple’s two children. The party was staying in a hotel in Killarney town.

Gardaí were unclear last night as to what caused the accident yesterday in which the tourists, in their 60s, lost their lives, after the traditional horse and trap in which they were travelling suddenly left the road and fell around 20ft.

The couple died instantly on the rocks. The horse, which was injured in the incident, was put down.

The jarvey driver was not injured, but is believed to be very shaken by the incident.

The traditional two-wheeled vehicle has been in use since Victorian times to ferry tourists from Brandon’s Cottage through the dramatic narrow pass in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks to Kate Kearney’s Cottage.

The dead were among a party of friends and family, some of whom probably witnessed what gardaí described as a tragic accident.

The Wishing Bridge, Gap Of Dunloe, near where the fatal accident is thought to have happened.

It occurred at around 2pm and ambulances and gardaí attended the scene, as did the south Kerry coroner. Kerry Mountain Rescue was called in to assist in the recovery of the bodies.

They were taken by hearse to University Hospital Kerry where post mortems will be carried out today.

The road was closed to facilitate an examination by Garda Forensic Collision Investigators. The Health and Safety Authority was also notified.

Killarney Garda Superintendent Flor Murphy, who attended the scene, said: “This is a very sad and tragic accident and it will be investigated to establish the full circumstances.”

Mayor of Killarney Niall Kelleher said the tragedy had left a dark cloud over the community.

Minister of state for tourism and sport Brendan Griffin, a Kerry TD, offered his condolences to the families of the dead.

“Everyone in Kerry is truly shocked and saddened. I want to offer my sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims at this most distressing time.”

The accident occurred on the way down the Gap, some distance from the locally named Serpent bridge, a high bridge at the apex.

The travelling party was on the way towards Kate Kearney’s Cottage.

It remains unclear exactly what caused the horse to suddenly leave the road and drop to his left.

However, no other vehicle was involved and a collision with the bridge appears to have been ruled out by gardaí. The horse had not bolted, they stressed.

Weather conditions were good at the time and the area — which attracted complaints about traffic and safety from residents as well as visitors last year because of a lack of traffic control — was not busy at the time.

Gardaí are appealing for witnesses to contact Killarney Garda Station on 064 6671160, the Garda Confidential Telephone Line on 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.

In May 2017, an American tourist cycling through the Gap with her husband lost her life in a accident after rounding a bend and colliding with a sheep trailer.

This story first appeared on IrishExaminer.com