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'I never thought that my fine son would be in the cemetery...we're all heartbroken'

Jack Downey died after taking a substance at Indiependence earlier this month.
Aug 24th 2019, 1:55 PM 49,918 34

THE PARENTS OF a teenager who died after he took a substance at a music festival in Cork hope that his death will raise awareness of the risks of taking drugs.

Jack Downey from Clonmel, Co Tipperary died three days after being rushed to Cork University Hospital (CUH) from the Indiependence festival earlier this month.

The 19 year-old became unwell at the festival on 4 August, and went to a medical tent before being transferred to CUH, where he died three days later.

Today, his parents Johnny and Elaine told Brendan O’Connor on the Marian Finucane Show on RTÉ Radio 1 that “every day is worse than the day before” and that they never believed such a tragedy would strike their family.

“I would never have suspected it was going to be our Jack,” Johnny said. “But it affects everybody, I think.”

“The cards letters we’ve got, we’ve only opened a fraction of them and people are relating where it’s happened to them up the country, down the country.”

Elaine said if anything came from her son’s death, it was for people to be more aware that drugs were a reality in society.

She told the programme that there was “no way back” for her family, adding: “I never thought that my fine son would be in the cemetery…we’re all heartbroken.”

However, Johnny said that despite what happened, he felt those who helped Jack at the festival “did everything they could”.

“We have spoken to everybody else was in the that had dealings with Jack to try to piece it all together,” he said.

“He took the substance and he reacted badly. That was it.”

At his funeral last month, mourners heard how Jack, an only child and a member of Clonmel Óg Hurling and Football Club, trained juveniles in his spare time.

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They also heard him described as “a man with a presence” and a “cheeky little smile”.

His parents spoke further about the type of person Jack was today, recalling his conversational abilities and how he spoke to his grandfather every evening on the phone.

“He was a strong man, but gentle,” Johnny said. “He had a presence, definitely. He could walk into a room there and he wouldn’t have to say anything; he’d just smile.”

Johnny and Elaine also paid tribute to those who had shown them support since their son’s death, as well as staff at CUH.

“I realised after Jack’s death that friends and family are very, very important and were a lot lot more than I thought I actually had,” Johnny said.

“[We've had] phenomenal support from the Friday 2 August to today’s date… unbelievable support from everybody.”

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Stephen McDermott

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