BY OLIVIA KELLEHER
A WEST Cork priest was in a joyful mood after he learned he wasn’t on the transfer list to another parish, and went for lunch only to leave the restaurant and lose his life.
Fr Con Cronin was struck by a bus which went out of control after the driver suffered a cardiac episode which also resulted in his death, an inquest heard this week.
The joint inquests into the deaths of Fr Con (72), a native of the Borlin Valley near Bantry, and father-of-two Mark Wills (51) was heard in Midleton courthouse.
The inquest heard from Passage West parish secretary Catherine Concannon, who went for lunch with Fr Cronin in the Bosun restaurant at 12.40pm on August 3rd in 2021.
She said that Fr Cronin was ‘extremely happy’ as he had learned that he was to remain in his beloved parish of Passage West. The pair left the restaurant at about 1.30pm.
Ms Concannon said that she was shocked when they were about half-way across the road as she saw a bus ‘speeding across the road’ onto the footpath.
‘The bus was scraping the wall at speed. Next thing I remember was the bus had passed me and I was standing on my own screaming “Where is Fr Con?”.’
The jurors were also read a statement from Des Tobin.
He was getting his fishing gear out of his car when he saw a bus coming towards them. He pushed his 13-year-old daughter out of danger and said the bus had ‘just missed him.’
Assistant State pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster said that a post mortem had indicated that Mark Wills had died after he suffered a cardiac arrhythmia while driving the bus.
The inquest was told that all of his medical checks with Bus Éireann were up to date and that he had passed them all.
The jury concluded that Mr Wills died of natural causes, and a verdict of accidental death was recorded in relation to Fr Cronin.
Coroner Frank O’Connell said that he knew Fr Cronin very well.
He described him as a ‘tremendous character.’
‘He was full of the joys of spring. He was a breath of fresh air. A fantastic guy.’