By Harry Keaney
For a number of families in Ireland this year, the Christmas and New Year season was marred by tragedy.
In Sligo, Sean McCarrick, 21, and his brother Cronan, 19, were taken from the River Garavogue in the early hours of Christmas Day, their arms clasped around each other. They drowned after one fell into the river the night before and the other jumped in to try to save him.
It was the second tragedy to strike the area in Sligo Town where the boys lived. Earlier, a 22-year-old woman, Deborah Farrell, was killed in a traffic accident.
Meanwhile, carnage on Irish roads continued into the New Year when four people lost their lives. Among those killed were a man and woman who died in a three car pile-up near Slane, Co. Meath.
The victims were 57-year old Kiu Liu Wong from Castleblaney, Co. Monaghan, who was driving one of the vehicles; and John Joe McGuinness, 58, from Dunleer, Co. Louth who was traveling with his wife and teenage son and daughter in another car.
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Among the injured was the driver of the third car, Irish Independent journalist Martina Devlin, who was traveling to her native Omagh to cover a Boyzone concert.
In County Kildare, a 32-year-old man, Matthew McDonald, Ballydavis, Co. Laois, was killed when his van overturned on the N7, about a mile outside Monasterevin.
A woman in her 40s, Angela Reynolds, from Drumsna, died near her home in a two-car crash in County Leitrim. The driver of the other car was rushed to Sligo General Hospital.
In Longford, the people of Clondra were in shock after a 71-year old bachelor, Tom Croghan, was found dead in the hallway of his small public house. The victim had a stab wound to the chest; a kitchen knife was found nearby. The death occurred while many from the area were attending evening Mass less than 50 years from where he died.