Inquest into death of Clannad co-founder

Inquest into death of Clannad co-founder

A Donegal coroner’s court records that Noel Duggan died of asphyxiation after choking on a piece of garlic bread

AN INQUEST has found that Clannad co-founder Noel Duggan, the uncle of Enya, died in 2022 after choking on a piece of garlic bread on a night out with friends.

Evidence of his sudden death in October 2022 was outlined by gardaí, witnesses and a pathologist before Donegal Deputy County Coroner, Dr Denis McCauley at Letterkenny Courthouse.

Mr Duggan died while dining with friends at Casadh an tSúgáin, in Loughanure, west Donegal on the evening of October 15, 2022. The inquest heard that Mr Duggan (aged 73) had been drinking with friends since about 2pm on the afternoon of his demise.

At around 6pm the group decided to order food, and while taking starters, Mr Duggan —having taken a bite of garlic bread — slumped forwards on the table gasping for air.

Dr McCauley heard how friends and then paramedics tried desperately to save Mr Duggan’s life. The manager of the restaurant tried to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre on Mr Duggan, but with no success.

Witness and friend of Mr Duggan, John Sweeney — one of the group who had been dining — said that CPR was also tried, again unsuccessfully. Wait person Brid Sweeney had received directions over the phone by the emergency services, but to no avail.

Mr Sweeney told the inquest that paramedics tried to revive Mr Duggan and managed to remove the obstruction from his windpipe using a long instrument.

Pathologist Dr Gerry O’Dowd said a postmortem concluded that Mr Duggan had died from asphyxiation. At the time Mr Duggan had a level of alcohol in his system five times the drink-driving limit. This level of alcohol, according to Dr O’Dowd, would have been a contributory factory in Mr Duggan’s death insofar as it could hamper reflexes, and could make swallowing more difficult. It might also make a person less aware of protecting their airwaves and keeping them clear.

Based on the pathologist’s evidence, the level of alcohol, according to the deputy coroner, increased the likelihood of an accident such as this happening.

The deputy coroner accordingly recorded a finding of death by misadventure. The cause of death was entered as being asphyxiation secondary to a blockage of the airways by food. The incident was associated with a high blood-alcohol level. He

Noel Duggan, one of the founding members of the hugely successful Irish folk music group Clannad in 1970 was a native of Gweedore in Co. Donegal.

Noel and his twin brother Pádraig (1949-2016) co-founded Clannad in 1970 along with nephews Ciaran and Pól Brennan and niece Moya Brennan.

The group are best known internationally for their 1982 hit single Theme from Harry's Game, which reached number two in the Irish charts and number five in the UK charts after being used as the theme tune from the Yorkshire Television series Harry's Game.

Pádraig Duggan died in 2016 aged 67 of pulmonary fibrosis.