Tributes have been paid to “gifted” athlete Darren Ryan (30), who died in a bus crash in Limerick

The popular minibus operator was transporting customers on camping trips and stag and hen parties when the incident occurred at around 2.55am

Darren Ryan (30) from Meelick, Co Clare, one of the triplet brothers well known in rugby and GAA circles, died when the minibus he was driving hit Athlunkard Bridge in Corbally, Co Limerick.

The popular minibus operator was transporting customers on camping trips and stag and hen parties when the incident occurred at around 2.55am.

Mr Ryan’s body was taken from the scene to University Hospital Limerick for a post mortem.

The R463 between St Munchin’s College secondary school in Limerick and the Shannon Banks estate in Corbally remained closed on Sunday as Garda Forensic Collision Investigators carried out a technical investigation into the scene of the accident on the bridge.

The bus could be seen lying prone on one of two lanes on the bridge on Sunday afternoon as gardaí examined the wreckage. It was then winched onto a recovery truck and taken to a site where it was further examined by Garda forensic collision investigators.

The scene of the accident that killed Darren Ryan at Athlunkard Bridge in Limerick

Gardaí appealed to any witnesses or road users who may have dashcam footage from the time of the accident to contact gardaí on Henry Street in the city.

In a separate incident, a pedestrian in her late 70s died after she was hit by a van on the N67 in Moyasta, between Kilrush and Kilkee in County Clare, at around 7pm on Saturday evening.

One of the triplet boys, Mr Ryan, along with his brothers Evan and Gavin, were part of a strong forward unit with St Munchin’s Rugby Football Club and Young Munster Rugby Football Club in their school and junior teams.

The young Munster paid glowing tributes to Mr. Ryan.

“Everyone at Young Munster RFC is shocked and saddened by the sudden loss of former player Darren Ryan,” the club said on its website.

“Our immediate thoughts go out to the Ryan family, particularly his parents Ray and Trish and his siblings Evan, Gavin and Dawn, as well as his son Raemie, who Darren adored.”

Young Munster said the Ryan family had a long tradition at the club.

“Darren, a back row forward, began playing club and schools rugby as an underage player at St Munchin’s College, from where he was part of our senior squad from 2013 to 2018, having played in the semi-finals of the All Ireland League against Clontarf FC and also played in the 2016 Munster Junior Cup winning team against Cork Constitution FC,” the club said.

Darren Ryan

“Darren’s triplet brothers Evan and Gavin were also in the Young Munster squad at the time and his father Ray was in the second row of the famous Young Munster All Ireland league winning team in 1993.”

Mr Ryan later played for Kilfeacle RFC and Garryowen FC.

“Darren was an outstanding player whose character lit up the dressing room. He will be fondly remembered by all who had the pleasure of playing with and coaching him,” said Young Munster.

“He will be sorely missed by everyone at Young Munster and the wider rugby community.”

“Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam, Darren.”

The Garryowen Club also paid tribute to Mr Ryan.

“Everyone at Garryowen FC is deeply saddened to learn of the untimely death of our former player and good friend Darren Ryan, who tragically died in a road accident in the early hours of this morning,” the club posted online.

“Darren was a larger-than-life character who brought fun and humor to the dressing room to defuse even the most tense situations. In addition to his sense of humour, Darren was a gifted footballer whose natural ability and steely determination greatly enriched our team and he was a born leader.

“Darren played his last game for us last season when he made a cameo appearance for us at Thomond Park against Shannon in the AIL and was our best player that night.”

“During his time in light blue, Darren won the Munster Senior Challenge Cup and the Bateman Cup after joining us from Young Munster, where we join the rest of the rugby fraternity in mourning Darren’s loss.”

Garryowen FC added: “To the Ryan family: Words cannot express how deeply we feel your loss and the pain of losing Darren, but please take comfort in the knowledge that he is loved by all of us both as a player and “He was very loved and respected as a friend.” We were lucky to have him in our lives.

Mr Ryan’s father, Ray Ryan, runs a coaching business here on the family farm in Meelick and had a distinguished sporting career before retiring in 1995. He represented Munster Schools, Munster U-20 and Ireland U-21, as well as Bohemians and Young Munster RFC, and plays hurling for Clare at minor, U21, junior and senior levels.

The three brothers followed in their father’s sporting footsteps: Gavin and Evan were called up for U-18 Munster Schools trials and competed for the Meelick GAA club, and Darren, also a member of the Meelick GAA club, was appointed in June 2016 Young Munster Junior Player of the Year named In the same year, the team defeated Cork Constitution at Independent Park to win the club’s first Munster Junior Cup in 17 years.

Mr Ryan died just meters from the playing fields of St Munchin’s College, where he had achieved rugby victories alongside his own brothers and teammates within the tight-knit Munchin’s Rugby fraternity.

His sister Dawn, a nurse with Enable Ireland, represented Limerick at the 2014 Rose of Tralee.

“Darren was the nicest guy,” said a family friend. “He would have been very involved with the St Munchin’s College rugby team. His family is a very talented and sporty family, they run a farm and a bus hire company in Meelick, they were all achievers, they were inspiring local people.

“They are a very well known rugby family, a big ‘Young Munsters’ family and very involved with Meelick GAA Club.

“Darren was very fit, a great athlete, he would have played sport all his life, particularly rugby where he played as a forward.

“Their buses were on the road all the time, taking people in and out of Limerick city.”

Darren Ryan had also run a transport service for stag and hen parties and had recently started transporting people on camping trips.

“He did a lot of stag and hen parties and late night runs for people, he was a real hard worker, independent and had also started taking people on camping trips,” the family friend said.

“He was a fabulous guy, you couldn’t meet a nicer person, it’s devastating, just shocking.”

Mr Ryan leaves behind his partner and young son Raemie, parents Trish and Ray, sister Dawn and brothers Evan and Gavin.

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