Another woman is being treated for serious injuries after the incident took place on a straight stretch of road outside the Limerick village.
Three elderly women have been killed in a horrific car crash in West Limerick on Thursday evening.
The two-car collision occurred at around 6.30 pm on the N69, just outside the rural village of Loughill.
Mary Bradley, 77, was the sole occupant of one of the cars and was pronounced dead at the scene, while Mary Noonan, 78, and Mary Costello, 73, were traveling in the front seat of the other car. Both women were also pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.
A third occupant, Mary Griffin, was traveling in the backseat and sustained injuries which are not thought to be life-threatening. She is currently being treated for her injuries at University Hospital Limerick.
It is thought that Mary Bradley may have suffered a heart attack while driving, which caused her car to veer onto the opposite side of the road and collide with the second car.
Emergency services from Foynes fire service and Newcastle West fire service were sent to the scene, with a total of four emergency units being sent.
Shane Ross, Transport Minister, said that there were “no words” to describe the tragic circumstances and advised caution on the roads ahead of the forthcoming bank holiday weekend.
“It’s just so incredibly sad these things should happen,” Ross said. “I’d ask people to be careful on the roads for the next three days.”
Local Fine Gael Councillor John Sheahan said that there was huge “shock and anguish” in Loughill at the news.
“There is a palpable sense of gloom in the area tonight and people are so saddened and shocked at such a tragic loss of life. It’s a very straight stretch of road,” he said.
The accident has left a cloud over the entire community of Loughill, according to parish priest Tomas Crawford who saw fire brigades rushing to the scene as he traveled home from a meeting.
“All I can say is that this particular accident seems to be been either a mechanical error in the car or a human tragedy. A blackout or a heart attack or something, I don’t know.
“There was no reason for this to happen when you look at the road, it was a straight stretch and outside of a village with a speed limit, but they are not the type of women who would have been speeding anyway.
“What it is, is a terrible shock and wake up call for anybody driving a car, it could happen to you or me, today, now. They are mechanical and they could go wrong.”
Gardaí in Newcastle West are currently investigating the fatal collision and are appealing to anyone who may have information about the crash, or who may have dashcam footage, to reach out to them at Newcastle West Garda station by calling 069-20650.