TRIBUTES have been paid to a Clare club hurler and much-loved son, who died while holidaying in Greece overnight, writes David Raleigh.
The deceased, who was in his 20s was named locally as Niall O’Brien, died after being struck by a car on the island of Ios, it’s understood.
Mr O’Brien had been a star player with Broadford GAA Club, and was on holiday with a group of 20 friends when the accident occurred.
His body is to be taken to Athens for a post mortem, an informed source said. Police on Ios have been contacted for comment.
Mr O’Brien, from Castletroy in Limerick, and who was a third year student at the University of Limerick, was also a valued member of Castletroy Golf Club.
“Niall was a brilliant sportsman, he was a serious hurler, he was huge into golf and gaa, soccer, everything really,” said a source.
“He was an unassuming lad, and he had recently recovered from a hernia operation and he was thrilled that he had got the go ahead to play golf again.”
“This is just a terrible tragedy. Niall was the nicest lad you could ever have met, and the whole community just can’t believe what has happened.”
“He had worked part-time behind the bar at Castletroy Golf Club. His father, Mike, is from Clare and that’s why Niall was playing with Broadford and he he used to get a load of slagging for that, but it was all good banter.”
Mr O’Brien’s parents, along with their three other sons, were being comforted by neighbours and friends at their home as they tried to come to terms with their sudden and tragic loss.
A spokesman for The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust confirmed it was liaising with the deceased’s family in order to help arrange to repatriate his remains home for burial.
The Trust “aims to alleviate the financial hardship of bereaved families repatriating the body (bodies) of loved one(s) who have died abroad in sudden or tragic circumstances back to Ireland”, its website stated.
Its founder, Colin Bell, from Newry, whose dancing champion and skilled GAA-playing son, Kevin, 26, died in June 2013 after being hit by a car in, New York, said he had been in contact with Mr O’Brien’s family to provide them with assistance.
A spokesman at the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed it was “aware of the case and is providing consular assistance” to the family.
“As with all consular cases, the Department does not comment on the details of any specific case,” they added.
A spokeswoman for Castletroy Golf Club said it was preparing a statement to be sent to club members.