An inexplicable road accident has claimed the life of the "visionary" who predicted that Our Lady would appear at Knock last year just hours after the birth of his first child.

Keith Henderson, 34, died a few hours after his wife Sharon had given birth to the couple's first child.

His car, a Toyota, hit a pole in the village of Tarmonbarry in County Roscommon at 2.45 a.m.

Police say they do not know what caused the car to speed off the road and into the pole.

Henderson was pronounced dead at the scene.

His distraught wife insisted on  leaving the maternity wing of Mullingar Hospital to travel to Roscommon Hospital to identify her late husband.

The couple had moved from Dublin last year along with Sharon's father, Ronald.

It was her father who was forced to break the heartbreaking news at his daughter's bedside.

Local priest Fr Eamon O'Connor said: "This is a terrible tragedy. I was only talking to him last Sunday after Mass and he was very much looking forward to the birth of their baby.

"Keith's faith was very important to him. We were all very shocked to hear of his death in this road accident.

"Our sympathies, prayers and support go out to them all at this very difficult and sad time.''

Last year, Henderson and a spiritual healer called Joe Coleman, also from Dublin, led thousands of hopeful pilgrims in prayer as they waited to see Our Lady at the famous church in Knock.

People travelled from all over Ireland, England and parts of Europe to pray with them and join the vigil.

Neighbor Tom Crosby said his heart went out to the tragic family.

"He was very religious. For this to happen to them at this particular time when their first baby was just born, it's just unbelievable really, It's so very sad and there is a cloud over the entire parish today. Everyone is upset and affected by this terrible tragedy. Our deepest heartfelt sympathies go out to Sharon and Keith's family."

Tragic: Irish visionary Keith Henderson praying at Knock last year for an apparition by the Virgin Mary