Roscommon, a father of two, died along with his older sister after heroically going to her rescue while both were swimming off Kerry Beach.
Esmond “Dessie” Byrne (52) died in a horrific tragedy along with his 62-year-old sister living in Sweden, Muriel Eriksson, while his teenage son was at Ballybanion Beach and is believed to have witnessed part of the incident. unfolding on Thursday afternoon. .
Mr. Byrne, originally from Athlone, lived for many years at Lecarrow in Roscommon and worked as a carpenter and carpet installer.
His older sister lived in Malmö in Sweden in recent years, but maintained very close ties with Ireland.
Taoiseach Michael Martin, who visited Kerry, paid tribute to Mr. Byrne and Ms. Ericsson.
“We are all deeply shocked and saddened by this very tragic and heartbreaking loss of life on a beautiful day,” he said.
“I want to express my sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims, especially to those family members who were present and witnessed this heartbreaking tragedy,” he added.
“I also want to pay tribute to our first responders and emergency services, who did everything possible, as quickly as possible, to respond to this emergency.
“It reminds us all of how treacherous the seas and oceans can be. But at this moment, our deepest condolences and hearts go out to the people who have lost loved ones in this very, very sad tragedy.”
Westmeath Co Chairman Angus O’Rourke was a childhood friend of the Byrnes and said the entire community was stunned by the tragedy.
“When you talk about Dessie Byrne, you think of a hilarious character who always had a smile on her face,” Clerk O’Rourke said.
“Dessie loved outdoor activities. I know that he was a member of the local cycling club. He also took up swimming. Thirty years ago, when nobody was skiing, Dessie Byrne was skiing.
“I just can’t believe he’s gone. He was such a versatile person. The scale of this tragedy stunned everyone. Like all residents of Athlone, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the Bern family here respected.
The Lecarrow Lazers Bicycle Club honored the memory of one of its most dedicated members.
“It is with great shock and sadness that we learn of the tragic loss of our dead friend and teammate Dessie Byrne and his sister Muriel, who drowned last night,” a spokesperson for Laser CC wrote.
“On behalf of the club, we express our condolences to the family, relatives and friends of Dessy. All club activities are canceled this weekend as a sign of respect.”
The siblings, along with Byrne’s teenage son, decided to take a short Irish vacation, including visiting Ballybonion while his sister was home from Sweden.
It is known that they arrived in Ballybanion just a few days before the tragedy.
Emergency services found the distressed teenager on the beach and treated him for shock before reuniting with relatives later.
Kerry rescue officials called the tragedy the worst swimming accident in the area in over 30 years.
Two siblings died after they ran into the infamous strong currents offshore from Ballybanion Beach.
This coast is considered one of the most picturesque in Ireland, but it is known for its high tide and powerful currents that sweep past the northern coast of Kerry – currents that can be dangerous for the unwary.
It is believed that Mr Byrne and his sister went on an afternoon swim off Ballybanion shortly after 4:00 pm on Thursday.
Mr. Byrne’s son was playing on the beach at the time.
It is believed that the 62-year-old woman got into trouble while sailing on the high seas.
Her brother, who was also a swimmer, is believed to have realized that she was in trouble and boldly went to her rescue.
However, he quickly fell victim to the same currents and also found himself in a predicament.
The alarm was raised at 6:00 pm when a person on shore spotted a man in the water they believed was stranded.
Later, Mr. Byrne’s body washed ashore and when emergency services arrived in the area, they pulled him out of the water, unconscious.
Despite desperate attempts to revive him, he died at the scene.
Locals feared that two more people were in the water, and a large-scale rescue operation was launched.
This involved elements of the Irish Coast Guard, including the Rescue 115 helicopter based at Shannon, the RNLI lifeboat based at Kilrush, the Ballybunion Coastal Lifeboat and the Ballybunion Sea and Cliff Rescue, and the Irish Community Air Ambulance Service based in Cork North. .
Gardaí and HSE officials provided support ashore.
Soon the body of Mr Byrne’s sister was recovered from the water.
She did not respond, and despite desperate attempts to revive her, she was also pronounced dead at the scene.
Rescuers initially feared that there was a third person in the water, so the search operation continued for another hour.
Both helicopters remained on standby at Ballybanion in case of emergency hospitalization.
However, once it was confirmed that there was no third casualty in the water and Mr Byrne’s son was found unharmed on the beach, the operation was called off.
Both bodies were later taken to University Hospital Kerry (UHK), where a full post-mortem examination was performed on Friday afternoon.
Garda sources said the deaths of the siblings are being treated as tragic accidents and both are believed to have drowned.
A file will now be prepared for Kerry’s coroner’s inquest next year.
Ballybanion locals have recovered from the worst tragedy to hit the popular northern resort of Kerry in over 30 years.
Fine Gael’s CTO Patrick O’Donovan described the death as a “tragedy of desperation” and offered “sincere condolences to the families” of those who died and to the people who witnessed the incident.
“From our perspective, here in Limerick, Ballybunion is an extension of our own place,” Limerick TD told RTÉ Today with Claire Byrne Show.
“We know this place well. Some of my extended family was in the Ballybanion and saw the turmoil unfold.
“This is a desperate tragedy. And there really is nothing you can put into words to describe the veil of darkness that is currently shrouding North Kerry and the West Limerick area.”
Sinn Féin local councilor Robert Beasley said everyone in Ballybanion was shocked by the tragedy and loss of life.
“This is a heartbreaking event and our thoughts and prayers go out to this poor family,” he said.
On Thursday afternoon, he was walking on the rocks outside of Ballybanion and spotted what he believed to be a rescue exercise with several helicopters hovering offshore.
“Someone then told me that a tragic incident had happened. From what I’ve heard, it seems that one of them got into trouble and the other went to rescue them. They just got in trouble too.”
Fine Gael local councilor Michael Foley said: “Everyone is shocked by what has happened. This is very tragic.
“We only live in Ballylongford, which is about 12 miles from here, and the whole village is shocked by this sad news.
“Everyone was saying how tragic it was and how they felt about the family.”
Two people have drowned in the Ballybanion area in the last 20 years, one of which was the result of an accidental fall.
Forty years ago, when Ballybunion’s popularity skyrocketed and a huge influx of visitors led to a series of tragedies, the locals banded together to form a dedicated volunteer rescue service to support and supplement the local lifeguards hired by the Kerry Co. board.
It was a huge success and from 1976 to 1986 there was not a single drowning tragedy in Ballybunion.
The area now even has its own rescue boat.
However, in August 1992, Ballybanion experienced one of its worst tragedies when a 50-year-old father and his ten-year-old son drowned, trapped by rapidly rising tides and strong currents while exploring a local cave network near Ladies Beach.
Over the past ten years, five children have been rescued from near-tragedy off Ballybanion Beach in three separate incidents as a combination of strong tides and treacherous currents nearly led to disaster.
Twice children had to be rescued on the high seas off Ballybanion after being swept away while playing with inflatable boats and toys.
In 2010, two children were rescued when they were swept away by a wave.
In 2013, a 10-year-old and an 8-year-old child had to be rescued on the high seas after being swept away by the current while using a life buoy.
Three years ago, a boy was rescued after he had difficulty swimming.