Tributes have paid to a priest in his 50s who has died in what has been described as a "freak accident" at the Parochial House in Abbeyleix, Co Laois.

Fr John Cummins, who was parish priest in the town, died at his home on the Ballinakill Road at around 3.30pm.

Gardaí are investigating the circumstances of the incident.

It is understood Fr Cummins' car went out of control in the driveway of his house.

Laois County Fire and Rescue Service confirmed it was called to the scene of a single-vehicle incident at 4.20pm. 

Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin Denis Nulty paid tribute to the "much loved" priest, who was originally from Newbridge in Co Kildare.

In a statement, Bishop Nulty said his death "is a tremendous loss to all of us".

Bishop Nulty said his "thoughts and prayers" are with Fr Cummins' mother, brothers and sister, as well as "his priest colleagues throughout the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin, his team in Faith Development Services and ACCORD, Carlow, and, of course, his many parishioners in Abbeyleix, whom he held in his heart so dearly.

"At this time of profound heartbreak, I also remember his former colleagues at the Institute of Technology, Carlow, and the parishioners of Carlow Cathedral Parish," Bishop Nulty said.

Fr Cummins had served as parish priest in Abbeyleix for the last year-and-a-half.