| 5.3°C Belfast

Paddy Cunningham: Family mourn 'real gentleman' as dad to two sets of twins dies in car crash


Patrick Cunningham and his wife Karen

Patrick Cunningham and his wife Karen

The Killowen Road outside Rostrevor where the accident happened

The Killowen Road outside Rostrevor where the accident happened

Patrick Cunningham and his wife Karen

A married father-of-four killed in a car crash was a "great dad" who was always smiling, friends have said.

Patrick "Paddy" Cunningham, from Lisnacree, near Kilkeel, Co Down, was travelling to work with his brother Pearse and a colleague when their vehicle crashed on the Killowen Road between Kilkeel and Rostrevor yesterday morning.

Mr Cunningham, who was a dad to two sets of twins, worked in the production area of Thompson Aero Seating in Portadown. His brother and their colleague were taken to hospital for treatment for injuries not believed to be life-threatening. The pair were last night in a stable condition.

The one-vehicle crash happened shortly before 6.30am yesterday, just a few miles from Paddy's family home.

The 35-year-old father was married to childhood sweetheart Karen for almost six years. They had four children together, twin girls Elle and Molly (14) and twin boys, Finn and Reilly who are coming four next week.

He also played for his local GAA team, An Riocht, from an early age.

Paddy's aunt, Lorna McCartan Harper, said the entire family were devastated and in a state of shock after hearing the tragic news.

"He was a lovely person, a real gentleman who was good-looking and always smiling," she said.

"Paddy was kind-hearted, he would do anything for anyone, and he was really popular. Everybody knew him as good fun.

"They (his family) were talking of moving to Australia, but it was just talk really - there were no definite plans to go." Sean Doran, a Sinn Fein councillor who has known the victim for many years, said he was a very hard-working man.

"I've known Paddy for a long time, since he played football with my son from four years of age," he said.

"He has worked on building sites and was a plasterer for a few years. I know his parents very well, and his father Pearse passed away last year.

"Paddy was a lovely young fella. He was always smiling and he grew up to be a real gentleman and was a really good father to his kids.

"He was a very hard-working young man. It's a total tragedy that he was killed on his way to work to support his family. He was just such a decent fellow who was just trying to do his best and make a living.

"He was also a good friend of my two sons. They all played football together and grew up together. I was really shocked to hear the news first thing. I just couldn't believe it, it's like it wasn't real. And now the whole county is in shock. To think he was always smiling, polite and friendly and what has happened is just such a terribly sad situation for the whole family.

"I want to express my sympathy to his wife, family, children and friends."

Thompson Aero Seating CEO Gary Montgomery added: "Our thoughts, first and foremost, go out to his family and his loved ones for the tragic loss they have suffered.

"He was a highly valued friend and colleague and very well-liked by the people he worked with in Thompson's, and he will be sadly missed at his workplace."

Local SDLP councillor Gillian Fitzpatrick also paid tribute to Patrick. "I want to send my absolute condolences to his family," she said.

"There are some very sad times ahead, but the community of Killowen will rally around them and support this family through their loss and the days ahead."

MP for the area, Margaret Ritchie, added: "I know that the local community in Killowen and the Mournes area will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the family of the man who lost his life, and will wrap them in a warm embrace at this time of sadness and sorrow.

"Death is always a difficult phenomenon, but it is more challenging for the family, friends and relatives of the bereaved when it is sudden, untimely and the result of an accident.

"I understand that two other men were treated in hospital for injuries. I hope they will fully recover, be discharged from hospital and be restored to their families."

• A man in his mid-20s was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital following a car crash near Crumlin in Co Antrim at around 6pm yesterday. He was said to be in a serious condition last night following the single vehicle accident.

Belfast Telegraph