Community ‘shocked and saddened’ over death of siblings in Ballybunian incident

Siblings killed in a suspected drowning incident at Ballybunian Beach have been named locally.

On Thursday evening, the brother and sister who drowned in Keri were declared brought dead at the scene.

He is named as Desmond Byrne, aged 50, and his sister Muriel Ericsson, aged 62.

Mr Byrne, originally from Athlone, was residing in Roskomán, Lekaro, while Ms Ericsson’s address was in Malmö, Sweden.

Emergency services were called to the beach on Thursday evening, when they were alerted that a man was having difficulty in the water.

Their bodies were removed from the scene by ambulance and taken to the mortuary of University Hospital Kerry in a trolley.

The process of post-mortem is going on.

It is being told that the noise was raised by a teenage relative.

Mr Byrne was a member of the Lecaro Lasers Cycling Club in Roscommon.

Club president Noel Galvin told RT News at One: “The whole community is shocked and saddened.

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

“We are only a small community between Athlon and Roscommon. We are just shocked. This is the terrible news that hit last night.”

Mr Galvin said Mr Byron was “extremely liked”.

“We did a lot of charity cycles over the years and he must have been a key member of those cycles. If he couldn’t cycle that day, he was helping in some other way. He was well-liked at the club.

He said he had his own carpet fitting business and was known throughout the Midlands.

“Lecaro is known to rally together in times of tragedies like this. We will rally around the family over the next few days and do what we can. People are finding it difficult to understand what happened.”

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K1RJJC Ireland Ballybunion Co Kerry

The Irish Coast Guard, Ballybunian Community Rescue Boat Ireland and Kilrush RNLI were involved in the operation.

The Irish Coast Guard said in a statement that the Valentia Coast Guard received a report shortly after 5 p.m. that a man was in trouble at Ballybunion.

“A full-scale search and rescue operation was conducted with Coast Guard Helicopter R115 based at Shannon, Ballybunion Community Rescue Boat Ireland and Kilrush RNLI,” the statement said.

“Shortly later, a second person was recovered from the water by the Ballybunian Community Rescue Boat Ireland.

“The man and the woman were declared brought dead at the scene. The search was called off after it was confirmed that no other person was missing.

“The Coast Guard expresses its condolences to the families of the two casualties.”

Fine Gael TD Patrick O’Donovan described the deaths as a “desperate tragedy” and expressed “deepest condolences to the families” of the bereaved and those who witnessed the incident.

“From our perspective, here at Co Limerick, Ballybunion is an extension of our own space,” Limerick TD told RTE’s Today with Claire Byrne Show.

“We know this place very well. Some of my own extended family were in Ballybunyan and they saw the commotion that unfolded.

“It is a desperate tragedy. And there is really nothing you can put into words to describe the gloom around North Kerry and the West Limerick region at this time.”

Local Sinn Féin councilor Robert Beasley said the community was left in shock after the “horrific tragedy”.

The councilor, who lives near Ballybunian Beach, told the PA news agency, “There were a lot of people on the beach at the time, maybe 600 or 700 people.

“I met a lot of people on the cliff and, when they realized what was happening, men, women and children were going in their flocks and they were in a terrible distressed state.

“An hour and a half ago, when I passed, people were cheering, building sand castles and generally having fun on the beach.

“Two deaths in a span of two minutes on the water. This is terrible – a terrible tragedy. People are shocked beyond belief.”

Mr Beasley offered his deepest condolences to the affected family.

Local Fine Gael councilor Michael Foley told PA: “Everyone is shocked by what happened. It’s very sad.

“We only live in Ballylongford, which is about 12 miles away, and the whole village is shocked by the sad news here.

“Everyone has said how sad it is and how they feel for the family.”