Further information has emerged about the Irish victims and survivors of last week’s terror attack in Tunisia, in which Seifeddine Rezgui, a gunman claiming to be affiliated with ISIS, killed 38 people at a beach resort.
Larry and Martina Hayes, 56 and 55 and from Athlone, Co. Westmeath, were about to leave for the airport after a week’s long vacation. It was not the first time they had holidayed in the area, the Irish Independent reports.
"They were due to fly back to Ireland on Friday night – in all likelihood on the same flight as the other Irish lady who was killed,” Larry’s brother Michael told the newspaper, referring to Lorna Carty, the woman from Robinstown, Co. Meath who was also killed in the attack.
"It's still unclear, but we believe they were walking near the beach waiting for their airport transfer. I don't know if they received any medical attention at the scene after they were shot,” he said.
"Larry spent all his life in Athlone and was well liked by everybody. It's such a terrible tragedy."
He also revealed that the couple had spoken over the phone with their daughter Sinead (30), their only child, less than 24 hours before the atrocity.
Meanwhile, Lorna Carty's family is preparing to have her body repatriated to Ireland.
Carty, 53, was on vacation in the beach town of Sousse with her husband, Declan, who was recovering from heart surgery.
Carty was a mother of two and worked as a nurse in Navan.
According to the Irish Independent, when the gunman opened fire, Declan, a dairy farmer, was resting in the couple’s hotel room while Lorna was on the beach. Their daughter, Hazel, was also in Tunisia at the time.
Their son, Simon, a senior GAA footballer for Co. Meath, has flown out to Tunisia to support his father and sister.
Anthony and Betty Tunstead from Ballymunn, Co. Dublin, have spoken out about their close encounter with the gunman.
They were a mere 100 feet from him, in the hotel lobby, as they were in the process of switching hotels for the second week of their two week holiday. The Tunsteads were traveling with Betty’s sister Mary and her husband, Denis.
"Every day we sat on the same sunbeds that were kept for us, but on Friday we said there was no point as we were changing hotels, other than that he would have massacred us.
"Or if we had been down checking out on time we would have been killed too," Betty told the Belfast Telegraph.
Anthony, her husband, was the closest to him out of the group of four.
"I wasn't 30 yards from him. He just came from nowhere and jumped up onto the marble parapet in the lobby," he said.
"He was roaring and shouting at the top of his head and letting the gun go off... I was terrified to move."
Robert and Wilma McKenzie, grandparents from south Belfast, were on the beach where Rezgui shot and killed tourists.
"I didn't hear the shooting because we were sitting beside a big speaker on the beach where they were holding an aqua aerobics class," Robert told the Belfast Telegraph.
"A minute before, two beautiful horses came down past us with police officers on them. I asked for a picture of them and went back to my sunlounger.
"The next thing the horses came flying down the beach. Suddenly there was shouting telling us 'get off the beach, get off the beach.'
"We just ran to our hotel."
The McKenzies are safe and sound back in Belfast now. They had vacationed in Tunisia close to a dozen times over the last six years.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke publicly about the attack, condemning it as “appalling.”
“It’s appalling and my sympathies and the sympathies of everybody go to the families of the three Irish people who lost their lives here,” he said.
“This is an act of terrorism and racism. That people from all over the world would go to a country to enjoy holidays, enjoy the sunshine and have havoc and tragedy wreaked upon them by fundamentalists.”