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File image of Ballybunion beach in Co Kerry.
File image of Ballybunion beach in Co Kerry.

Brother and sister who died after getting into difficulty in Ballybunion named locally

The two people who died were siblings – a man in his 50s and a woman in her 60s.
Aug 5th 2022, 2:18 PM 50,645 6

Updated Aug 5th 2022, 4:18 PM

THE SIBLINGS WHO died in a drowning incident in Ballybunion Beach have been named locally.

The brother and sister, who got into difficulty in the water in Co Kerry on Thursday evening, were pronounced dead at the scene.

They have been named as Desmond Byrne, aged 50 and his sister Muriel Eriksson, aged 62.

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

The Taoiseach has offered his condolences to the families and friends of the siblings.

Micheal Martin said: “We’re all deeply shocked and saddened at this very tragic and heart-breaking loss of life on what was a beautiful day.

“I want to extend my sincere sympathies to the family and friends of those who lost their lives, particularly to those family members who were present and who witnessed this heart-breaking tragedy.

“I want to pay tribute also to our first responders and emergency services who did everything they could as quickly as they could to respond to the emergency that unfolded.

“It reminds us all of how treacherous the seas and oceans can be. But at this point in time our deepest sympathies and hearts are with the people who have been bereaved as a result of this very, very sad tragedy.”

A garda spokesperson said post-mortem examinations will take place in “due course”. 

Gardaí and emergency services were alerted at around 6pm yesterday evening after the siblings got into difficulty in the water at Ballybunion beach. 

“They were taken from the water and pronounced dead a short time later. The bodies of both have been removed from the scene by ambulance to the mortuary in University Hospital Kerry,” the garda spokesperson said. 

Desmond was a member of the Lecarrow Lazers Cycling Club.

Chair of the club Noel Galvin said he will be a “big loss” to the village and the cycling club. 

“It’s a huge tragedy and people are just finding it hard to comprehend what went on, what happened. It’s just terrible,” Galvin told RTÉ radio’s News at One.

“The whole community here is just shocked and saddened.

He was a very prominent member of our community, he was a very popular member of our local cycling club.

“It’s just terrible, terrible news.” 

He said Desmond had a carpet-fitting business and is “known well throughout the midlands”. 

He was also involved in charity cycles and other fundraiser events within the community. 

“We’re only a small parish and he was active in everything that we did within the parish. Any fundraiser that we had, he was always there, always helping out or else fundraising himself. He was well liked and he’ll be well missed.”

Local councillor Robert Beasley told The Journal last night that people in Ballybunion were “shocked” by the incident.

“We’re not familiar with that kind of tragedy in Ballybunion, thanks be to God, but this is a terrible day for the town,” he said.

“Everyone seems shocked and bewildered. One death through drowning is bad, but two is a terrible, terrible shock. People are in awe, really, both visitors and locals alike. Completely shell shocked.”

Additional reporting by Niall O’Connor and PA.   

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