Ballybunion Beach
ballybunion tragedy

Siblings who died off Kerry beach 'looked after each other in life', funeral hears

Mourners were told of Dessie Byrne’s ‘wicked sense of humour’ and Muriel Eriksson’s ‘loving, caring’ nature.

MOURNERS HAVE HEARD about the “special bond” between two siblings who died in a “tragic” suspected drowning incident.

Brother and sister Desmond Byrne, 50, and Muriel Eriksson, 62, died off Ballybunion Beach, Co Kerry, last week.

Mr Byrne, who was originally from Athlone, was living in Lecarrow, Co Roscommon, while Mrs Eriksson had an address in Malmo, Sweden.

During Mr Byrne’s eulogy at a funeral mass in Co Roscommon, mourners were told of his “wicked sense of humour, his brutal honesty and his sense of always knowing best”.

“He loved the simple things in life. His dog Darcy, cat Ginger, and his chickens Heineken and Bud,” Keith Byrne told the service.

“He was always regarded as an excellent tradesman, co-worker and friend. He always left a lasting impact on every completed job. His favourite saying ‘tell me this’ was used frequently throughout the day.

“Anyone who knew Des will remember his willingness to help others, his love of family and community.

“Des loved his adventures with his beloved sister Muriel. They had a special bond, an understanding of each other. They were so united in life, and now they are together forever in heaven.”

Desmond Byrne is survived by his partner Paulette, sons Dean and Josh, stepdaughter Regina and her sons Blake and Jace.

Mrs Eriksson is survived by husband Kris, son John and grandson Liam, whose letter to his grandmother was read out during the eulogy.

Her son told mourners his mother was “the most loving, caring person I ever met”.

“Much like her mother Una, the best thing she knew was kids.

“I remember when she was going over here, she hardly had a place for her clothes in her bag because she had so many presents.

“(Des) was an inspiration and he’s made me a better person. They’re a wonderful pair of people.”

Mr Byrne’s son Dean told mourners: “My dad was a great man.”

He added: “We did everything together. He was always out somewhere at a show or car-boot sale bringing me and Josh with him for the spin in his blue van.

“He always told me that if he passes, I won’t be alone.

“From the second the news broke about him and Muriel, he was – like on many occasions – proven right. I was waiting for him to call on the phone and say, ‘Didn’t I tell you?’ or ‘What did I say?’”

Mourners were told that Mr Byrne was the youngest sibling and Mrs Eriksson was the eldest of the Byrne family.

An outpouring of tributes after their deaths was led by Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who called it a “heart-breaking tragedy”.

The priest told the congregation on Tuesday: “There was absolute shock and disbelief when the news broke of the tragic circumstances and untimely deaths of Dessie and his sister Muriel.

“What started out as a few days’ holidays in a beautiful part of our country turned quickly into a nightmare.

“The sense of bewilderment we all share cannot come close to what you, their families, are feeling at this time.

“This is one of the most difficult things you must face in life.

“Our words seem useless and inadequate and may be unhelpful at times.

“We can only hope and pray that our presence will support you through these darkest of days.

“We know that Muriel and Dessie in their lifetime have been generous in their giving in so many ways.

“Dessie and Muriel, you looked after each other in life. May you now be united in the place of rest and peace, prepared by god, over the rainbow.”

The funeral mass was held at St John’s Church in Lecarrow, Co Roscommon.

Two photographs, a cycling jersey and a replica of a vintage car, were taken to the altar during the ceremony.

Press Association