Inquest Hears West Clare Man Was Travelling “At Least 155km Per Hour” At Time Of Horror Motorbike Crash

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A west Clare man was travelling at an estimated speed of “at least 155km per hour” moments before he came off his motorbike in a horror crash a short distance from Bunratty Castle two years ago, an inquest has heard.

At the Co Clare Coroner’s court in Kilrush, the inquest heard that Miltown Malbay married father of young children, James Murphy (36) lost his right leg below the knee and died instantaneously from multiple severe injuries in the crash on the N18 Clonmoney West, Bunratty on March 14th 2022.

Mr Murphy’s sister, Shauna told the inquest in a deposition that before James departed from her Co Limerick home on the Monday afternoon where he was there to collect his motorbike and drive it home to Miltown Malbay they chatted “about his friend being involved in a fatal collision a few days earlier”.


Limerick woman, Emma Hourigan was driving her car en route to a family break in Galway in the slow lane of the two lane route and in eye-witness testimony, Ms Hourigan told the inquest when she saw and heard the speed at which the motorbike was ‘bombing’ it in the fast lane behind her “I got such a fright I said ‘Oh Jesus’ out loud to the others in the car”.

She said: “I slowed and moved towards the line and the hard shoulder as I knew the noise of the bike going past us would be shocking.”

Ms Hourigan said as Mr Murphy’s bike went past her in the fast lane, a blue car in front of her started to veer over into the fast lane to overtake.

Ms Hourigan stated the blue car was less than half way over the lane “when the bike braked hard and it had to because of the speed it was doing”.

Ms Hourigan described what occurred as “horrific”.

She said that the motorbike had made a slight impact on the boot area of the blue car and the motorbike went off to the left and the motorcyclist “was catapulted up into the air”.

She said that the motorcyclist “took a severe wallop off the ground and he hit into the barrier”

Ms Hourigan said that the bike “went on fire and there was debris everywhere”

Ms Hourigan stated that there was only two to three seconds from the time Mr Murphy braked to coming off the bike.

Ms Hourigan said that there were no cars in the fast lane before impact.

The driver of the Blue Skoda, Limerick college student, Aimee Curran from Johnstown, Co Kildare said however that she had been driving in the fast lane for three to four minutes before.

Ms Curran told Gardai that she had obtained her driving licence just six or seven months before March 2022 and had not travelled that stretch of road before and they were using Google Maps to get to their destination.

Ms Curran was bringing college friends to a party in Shannon and agreed that it was her first time to drive a car load of people.

Ms Curran agreed with counsel for the Murphy family, Lorcan Connolly BL that she didn’t recall veering out of the slow lane to the fast lane before impact. Mr Connolly said that passengers in Ms Curran’s car also recalled being in the fast lane for minutes.

The crash occurred at around 4pm and off duty medical professional Barbara Slevin told the inquest she was on her way home from work from University Hospital Limerick (UHL) and went to the scene and performed CPR on Mr Murphy after being told Mr Murphy had a slight pulse. However, after administering CPR, Ms Slevin could not get any pulse.

Ms Slevin told the inquest that the motorcycle passed her out on the roadway earlier and she said “the speed of the bike struck me as it was unsafe”.

Mr Murphy was pronounced dead at the scene at 4.24pm. The inquest was told that there was no evidence of drugs or alcohol in Mr Murphy or Ms Curran who was tested at the roadside by Gardai.

Mr Connolly told the inquest that the preponderance of evidence is that the accident occurred when the Skoda moved into the fast lane as Mr Murphy was travelling in the fast lane causing him to brake violently and Mr Murphy was thrown from the motorcycle.

A Garda Forensic Collision Report estimated that the speed of Mr Murphy’s motorcycle “at the start of the locked wheel was not less than 155 km per hour”.

A post mortem found that Mr Murphy died from severe and traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injuries consistent with a road traffic accident.

Clare County Coroner, Isobel O’Dea found that the cause of death was in accordance with the medical evidence with injuries consistent with a road traffic accident.