‘A wonderful kid’: Kilkenny schoolboy (13) who died after sliotar incident named

Harry Byrne from Gowran died after ‘terrible tragedy’ at school

A teenage boy who died following an incident at St Kieran's College in Kilkenny city on Monday afternoon has been named locally as Harry Byrne (13) from Gowran.

Gardaí have confirmed they are aware of the incident and are treating it as a tragic accident.

A file is being prepared for the Coroner’s Court.

The first-year student was rushed to St Luke’s General Hospital on Monday afternoon after being hit by a sliotar in the head while playing hurling at lunchtime.


He died on Tuesday. He is survived by his parents Fergal and Annette, brothers and sister Jake, Aimee and Sam and grandparents Teresa Byrne, Martin and Mary (Nolan). He will be buried after requiem mass at 12pm on Friday at Church of the Assumption, Gowran.

Local councillor Denis Hynes, who coached Harry in soccer, has described the student as "a wonderful kid, full of energy".

It was still unknown what exactly had happened to Harry, he told Newstalk's Pat Kenny show, but it appeared that he had received a knock to the head by a sliotar while playing with friends in the school yard during lunchtime.

“He played soccer for me, he was a right little goalkeeper, but his first love was hurling.”

Harry had recently won an underage medal and had tried out for the county team. “He was an up-and-coming player, a great player with a lovely attitude.”

It was hard to understand or make sense of what had happened, Mr Hynes said, adding that it was “absolutely devastating” for everyone who knew him. “He was well known and well liked.”

Mr Hynes said that he hoped Harry’s death would not deter others from continuing sporting activities. “Life is precious, this is an awful time, but kids should still be encouraged to go out and play sport.”

Hurling was part of the fabric of life in Kilkenny, he said. It was common to see “young lads walking up and down the street with hurleys in their hand, not mobile phones . . . It’s a tradition here.”

Mr Hynes said Harry was hoping to be the next Henry Shefflin or DJ Carey: "Sadly his life was cut too short."

County in shock

The mayor of Kilkenny, Cllr Andrew McGuinness, has said the whole of Kilkenny city and county was in shock at what he described as "a freak accident".

Mr McGuinness said the incident happened when Harry was “playing the game he loved” with his friends.

It was very sad for the community of St Kieran’s College, and for the boy’s family and friends, he told Newstalk Breakfast.

Hurling had “huge support” in Kilkenny and everybody loved the game, he said, so it was very sad that a “freak accident” had resulted in the loss of a young life.

The mayor called on people to respect and support the family at this difficult time.

Management at the secondary school, synonymous with hurling in Kilkenny and attended by countless hurling stars including Henry Shefflin, DJ Carey, Brian Cody and Eddie Keher, have expressed their sympathies.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the school said: “St Kieran’s College deeply regrets that a tragic accident happened at lunchtime yesterday involving a young student of our school. The accident occurred while the students were playing normally.

“This is a terrible tragedy for his family, friends, parish and all in our school community. You will understand the need for privacy at this time.

“Prayers and offers of support have been pouring in and are greatly appreciated.”


The statement added: “Psychologists from the National Educational Psychological Service are present with us in the school, supporting and advising teachers in their efforts to care for our students at this time.

“The school continues to be open to parents, to support them and to offer them advice and guidance.

“Each and every one of our students are precious to us. We pray for each other today. May St Kieran be a support at this time.”

Fr Pat Dalton, parish priest of Gowran, said on Wednesday he has met with the Byrne family to offer his condolences "and anything I could do".

Fr Dalton told RTÉ radio's Morning Ireland that the community would rally around the family.

Hurling was very much part of the ethos of St Kieran’s College, he said, adding that every student who went to the school loved hurling and hoped to make the college team and to go further afterwards.

Harry, who is survived by his parents, Fergal and Annette, and three siblings, will be buried following his Requiem Mass on Friday at the Church of the Assumption in Gowran.

Ciaran Phelan, vice chairperson of Young Irelands GAA club and a friend of the family, appealed for privacy for the family.

He told RTÉ radio's Today with Claire Byrne show that Harry's remains are expected to return to his home today and he appealed for privacy for the family so they could "have time with Harry."

Mr Phelan said that the parish and club had never experienced anything like this before.

“I can’t put into words how this is affecting us,” he said.

The Byrne family was well known and respected in the area, and he had known them all his life, he said.

Harry was “the loveliest young fella you could meet,” Mr Phelan said.

Mr Phelan said Harry’s enthusiasm, smile and manners stood out and he was “a credit to his family and his club.”

Mr Phelan said that Harry visited his home regularly and was always very polite, “he would thank you for food, he would thank you for a lift, it was always so heartfelt.”

Harry was a talented hurler having won two under-14 championship medals, which was “a big deal” for a country club.

Being chosen to go forward for the county development squad recently “was a big deal for him and his family” added Mr Phelan.