A Donegal woman has spoken of her heartbreak after her 68-year-old father died on her wedding night when he fell into a hole in the road while walking to a pub.
GraceAnne Gillespie said she still cannot display pictures of her 2007 wedding — or celebrate anniversaries — since her father, Patrick McBride, died close to his family home at Middletown, Derrybeg.
The 33-year-old spoke of her grief after an inquest jury rapped Donegal Council for “totally inadequate safety measures” for the public.
GraceAnne’s father fell head-first into the hole dug by the council at the end of the lane to the family home. He became wedged, suffering a number of broken ribs. A heart attack was brought on by suffocation.
Mr McBride had just returned from his daughter’s wedding reception in Gortahork and was on his way to his local pub to stand a round of drinks for neighbours when, in the midnight darkness, he toppled into hole dug eight days earlier for a signpost.
It was protected by tape tied between two cones, a lamp post and some bushes.
An inquest jury in Letterkenny on Friday returned a unanimous verdict that the cause of death was misadventure. They said the father-of-eight died because the hole had “totally inadequate safety measures for the public.”
They added that the case highlighted the need for a review of the standard of care for the public in relation to excavations of any size.
GraceAnne, the youngest of Mr McBride’s six daughters, married Michael Gillespie from Dungloe. She said yesterday: “I was daddy’s little girl, and he was so proud of me that day. He hardly ever drank, only at weddings, and he went home at midnight to observe a local tradition by standing a round of drinks in the pub down the road. He never got there.”
“Michael and I had just gone to the bridal suite. I still had my wedding dress on when there was a knock on the door and we were told daddy was dead”.
Mr McBride was found wedged upside down in the hole at around 4am by his two sons and a taxi-driver.
GraceAnne’s brother-in-law Martin McCole was critical of the Health and Safety Authority investigation. He said: “As a family we don’t intend to let it rest. We are looking at our options.”
Mr Cole, in a statement from all the family, said: “We are delighted with the verdict the jury brought in. It agrees with our view that our father died as a result of falling into a hole dug by Donegal County Council.
“If adequate safety precautions had been taken, by using barriers or proper security and safety measures, our father would still be alive today.”