Mayo crash: Further tributes paid to ‘multitalented’ family with ‘beautiful big smiles’

Deaths of Una, Ciara and Saoirse Bowden in crash on N17 in Mayo bring shock and grief to Moycullen, Co Galway

More tributes have continued to pour in for a mother and her two daughters who died in a road crash in Co Mayo on Tuesday.

The deaths of Una (47), Ciara (14) and Saoirse (9) Bowden on the N17, a short distance from Claremorris, has caused widespread grief in Moycullen, west Galway, where the family live.

David Bowden, Una’s husband and father of Ciara and Saoirse, is travelling back from Ethiopia where he is a project manager for the United Nations.

It is understood that the remains of the mother and daughters will be released to their family members on Friday. The deceased were taken to Mayo University Hospital in Castlebar for postmortems following the fatal incident.


Moycullen parish priest Fr Martin Whelan told RTÉ Radio 1′s Morning Ireland programme that Una had been involved in the parents’ association with one of the local schools where she assisted with fundraising.

“The family had lived in the village for some time until they moved to the other side of the parish into a cottage they bought and restored. Ms Bowden and her daughters had been involved in many community, sporting and social clubs,” he said.

Fr Whelan explained how the traditional Holy Week Wednesday service had been dedicated to the family and provided an opportunity for the community to come and pray together and to remember the family.

On Holy Thursday and Good Friday the schools and sporting organisations will also be putting together gatherings, he added, and they will also be working with the National Education Psychological Service to provide support and to let people know the services that are available.

Primary school worker Julieanne Browne said: “We are all devastated in Oughterard rugby and in the wider community.

“The Bowdens were very active in many sports, both in Moycullen and Oughterard. So it’s such a tragedy for the area. Three beautiful, kind, loving, caring ladies just gone in a moment.”

She described the Bowdens as a “joy” and “multitalented” who were involved in music and the choir.

“Always with beautiful big smiles on the sideline for all the girls’ rugby or getting in with the tackles and running and scoring the tries in the rugby club and at the many games that they played,” she told Morning Ireland.

“The community are in shock. The majority of them are coming together. The people have been going to the church praying together. People have been coming together. They’re talking to the children,” Ms Browne said.

“And talking is very, very important, especially for young children to get them aware of what has happened and not to shy away from the wonderful personalities that were Ciara and Saoirse and indeed Una, and to remember them fondly through talking about them and remembering their beautiful smiles, remembering the energy that they had and the quiet energy that they had,” she said.

“They were very quiet girls. They had this beautiful energy about them, and their smiles really lit up the rooms and the playing fields in every photo we have of them. It’s a beautiful tribute to have and a wonderful memory and legacy to have of their wonderful, vibrant spirits.”

Basketball player Cian Ryhill paid tribute to Ciara: “It’s a shock throughout the club, obviously. She was a fabulous young player. She had been a player with the club for a long number of years, It’s a tragedy all round.

“She was due to head down to Limerick on Monday with the Under-14 Galway team. It’s little things like that that start to bring home the magnitude of the tragedy. Our thoughts are with her family, friends and team-mates,” he said.

Moycullen resident Adrian Devane told Newstalk Breakfast his children had attended school and were involved in many of the same organisations as Ciara and Saoirse while his wife had taught one of the girls.

He had last spoken with Una at a school gathering on Friday last week when they discussed plans for Easter and the school. The Bowden family had moved to Moycullen a number of years ago and had quickly become involved in numerous activities and sports in the area, he said, adding they had been involved in Gaelic football, camogie, rugby and art.

News of the tragedy had caused a numbness in the village, Mr Devane said.

Supports have been set up in schools and clubs with grief counsellors for the children, parents and friends. Parents were taking guidance from the grief counsellors. “It’s just about being there, about being patient, there’s no right or wrong way (to cope with grief),” he said.

There had been a gathering in the local church on Wednesday evening to pray for the family and to provide comfort. “They were the most engaging family and they were involved in everything.”

Mr Devane said it was his understanding that Mr Bowden, who frequently works abroad as a project manager with the United Nations, had been expected home at Easter.

His wife and daughters had been on the way to or from Raphoe to visit her father when the crash occurred.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times

Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a reporter