Summer fun turned to devastating tragedy for a Cashel family at the weekend when a local teenager lost his life in a drowning accident on the River Suir.
13 year-old Dean Byrne was enjoying the summer sun with a group of friends when he got into difficulty in the water. He was rushed to Waterford Regional Hospital by helicopter but unfortunately it was too late to save his young life.
Dean had just completed his first year at Cashel Community School and was known as an enthusiastic sports fan, especially a soccer player and supporter.
The school community and the people of Cashel were left in deep shock by the tragic news, and have rallied around his heartbroken family - parents Liam and Shirley and his older brother Alan and little brother Kevin, who live at Oliver Plunkett Park in Cashel, and his grandparents Eddie and Mary Ryan. Dean’s grandfather, Eddie, was a former ambulance driver and is now proprietor of O Riain minibus and hackney service and iswidely known and respected in the town and beyond.
Eddie and Mary’s home, at Castlelake, was where Dean’s remains laid in repose before removal to St John The Baptist church in Cashel. Young Dean’s life was reflected in his funeral, on Monday morning, celebrated by Fr Christy O’Dwyer. Members of Cashel Town Football Club, where he was a schoolboy member, provided a guard of honour, and a soccer ball was included in the gifts presented as part of the Offertory Procession.
There was a huge turnout for the mass and burial, described by one mourner as “the whole town.”
Friends and school colleagues had gathered at Cashel Community School on Sunday to offer prayers for Dean and his family, led by Fr Bernie Moloney. His older brother Alan is a fifth year student at the school and Dean had just begun his summer holidays at the end of his first year there.
Dean was at an area of the Suir known as the Castle Lake, about three miles from Cashel, when he got into difficulties and was swept away by a current, while swimming with two friends on Friday afternoon. The alarm was raised by his friends as soon as they realised he was in difficulty, and the Coast Guard helicopter rushed to the scene. Gardai and emergency services along with the Coast Guard helicopter assisted in the rescue operation, and it was the Coast Guard helicopter crew who quickly found Dean and administered CPR in an attempt to save his life.
The 13 year-old was flown directly to Waterford Regional Hospital where, sadly, he was pronounced dead.
It came as a huge blow to the many local people who had gathered at the scene during the rescue, along with emergency personnel, as after the teenager was found it was initially hoped he could be saved.
Once it became clear Dean was in difficulty, his friends had raised the alarm and the air ambulance service in Wexford notified the Coast Guard.
Local Deputy Tom Hayes, who knows the family, expressed his shock at the tragedy. “It’s a huge shock to the family. They are lovely people, very hard working and very well respected in the community.
“Dean was very popular with everybody, people only had good words to say about him. It could have been anyone. It’s a real tragedy.”
A vote of sympathy was passed to the Byrne Family at Monday’s meeting of South Tipperary County Council. The vote of sympathy was proposed by Chairman Cllr. Sean McCarthy at a meeting held in Cashel to mark the last meeting of his term as chairman.