The sun shone in Ballybunion on Friday afternoon, at odds with the sadness and shock that hung over the popular tourist town. People there and further north in Kerry were trying to come to terms with the tragedy that had happened just the night before.
Every vacationer comes here to enjoy the beautiful beaches, entertainment and hustle and bustle that pulsates through the city. On Friday, that enthusiasm was marred by the loss of two lives at Men’s Beach 24 hours earlier. Two siblings died on the beach on Thursday evening. A family member traveling with them was in shock.
Desmond ‘Dessie’ Byrne, 52, died in the tragedy after trying to save his 62-year-old sister, Muriel Eriksson, who lives in Sweden.
Mr Byrne’s son was on Ballybunion beach and is said to have witnessed part of the incident on Thursday afternoon.
Fewer people than usual walked the beach on Friday and even fewer were in the water as they were reminded of the power of the sea, even on a beach normally as safe as this.
“People are calm today, the beach is calmer. It usually buzzes, but not today. Everyone is shocked, it’s hard to understand what happened. They would today look out to sea with a renewed respect,” said one holidaymaker who spends her summers in the city of North Kerry.
She is one of hundreds who own mobile homes in Ballybunion – many of them with sea views – that claimed the lives of Mr Byrne and Ms Eriksson. On her holiday she accompanied Mr Byrne’s teenage son.
Another father, who was in Cork on holiday, witnessed the horrific events and said he was afraid to let it go the kids back in the water.
“People are out this morning but the mood is bad,” he said.
“The sea is calmer… My wife doesn’t want the children to go into the sea now.
“It’s a terrible thing that’s happening.”
At Mass in Ballybunion on Friday morning, Father Sean Hanafin prayed for the brethren and rescue workers who rushed to the scene.
Father Hanafin spoke about a similar accidental drowning in August 30 years ago. This tragedy claimed the lives of a father and son in a cave on the beach. Fast forwarding from 1992, a community is in a similar state of shock.
Donal Liston, the chair of the Ballybunion Community Forum, said everyone is looking for answers.
“Everyone is decimated by the turn of events,” Mr Liston said. “It is difficult to understand. We eagerly await to find out what happened.”
He, too, recalled a similar tragedy 30 years ago. Back then, it took weeks for darkness to clear the city. It will also be some time before Ballybunion gains a foothold this time.
https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/republic-of-ireland/my-wife-doesnt-want-the-children-to-go-into-the-sea-now-shock-in-ballybunion-after-double-tragedy-41893090.html ‘My wife doesn’t want the children to go into the sea now’ – shock in Ballybunion after double tragedy