'Heart of gold': Tributes paid to Limerick man killed in UK car crash

Nick Rabbitts and Donal O'Regan

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Nick Rabbitts and Donal O'Regan

Tragic road death: Shane Stokes died in a car crash in England

Tragic road death: Shane Stokes died in a car crash in England

WARM tributes have been paid to Limerick “gentle giant” Shane Stokes, who tragically lost his life in a British road accident over Christmas.

The popular 29-year-old – described as having a “heart of gold” – was killed in a road accident in Oxfordshire, in south-east England.

He was driving back to his home in Leamington Spa, West Midlands, from where he was set to travel the following day to return to his family in Lisnagry.

His passing has sparked widespread shock and grief on both sides of the Irish Sea.

A grandson of Limerick All-Ireland hurling winner Dick Stokes, Shane had moved to England to chase his dream of working in the motor industry.​

Munster prop Dave Kilcoyne had Shane’s name written on his strapping during the province’s St Stephen’s Day game against Leinster. He later posted a picture of this, with the words RIP, to social media.

Both men lined out for UL Bohs, with Shane’s grieving father Gerry currently chairman of rugby with the club.

Former club president Tony Quilty said: “It’s just awful, dreadful news. Everyone in the club is absolutely shocked. There is no good time for this. But it couldn’t have come at a worse time, particularly as he was on his way home for Christmas. The thoughts and prayers of everyone at the club are with Gerry and his wife Ronnie, Brian his brother and Sarah his sister.”

Popular Shane was driving on the M40 near his home in Leamington Spa in the West Midlands when he was involved in a five-car pile up. His girlfriend Ashley remains in hospital following the incident.

Louis Quirke, of Ahane GAA Club where Shane played under-age, said: “There are no words. The time of year it happened. They are a very well-known family and highly respected. All his pals would live locally. I’d say they were probably going to meet up at Christmas. They are devastated.”

As a result of his association with Ahane – where his legendary grandfather hurled – Fr Brendan Kyne, the local parish priest also got to know Shane.

“He was always a lovely, pleasant lad, and it was always a pleasure to be in his company. The parish extends its deepest sympathy to Ger and Ronnie and all the family on the deep tragedy on the loss of their beloved son Shane. It is so sad, especially at this time of year to lose a beautiful son,” Fr Kyne added.

One of the original students at Castletroy College, the school’s principal Padraig Flanagan said his teachers are heartbroken by his death.

“He was a lovely guy, a really friendly person. He was a good student, an excellent rugby player and a very popular young man. It would appear he had found his niche in Britain, and was doing really well there. It’s just so sad,” he said.

Shane’s friends and family were comforting each other following the tragedy, with one taking to Facebook to say: “I’m still in shock. What a lovely guy, and a gentle giant. It was such a pleasure to know you.”

The youngster had moved to Britain, where he worked in the motor industry, becoming an integral part of the team run by leading touring car driver Rob Austin at Rockingham in Northamptonshire.

In a Facebook post, the driver called Shane a “good luck charm”.

“He has progressed to become a pivotal and much loved member of our team and a true friend. He was strong and supportive for us through the tough times, something I will never forget. He was without question a special guy, who had a heart of gold and will be deeply and sorely missed,” Rob wrote.

Shane’s grandparents Dick and Cissy are well-known in the Castletroy area for running a pharmacy at the Dublin Road. The return of Shane's remains are currently being arranged by Griffin's Undertakers. A spokesperson said it is expected that his funeral arrangements will be finalised by the end of this week.

It’s anticipated his funeral will take place next week.