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Friday 30 September 2016

'He was an amazing person' - friend backpacking with Govan (20) in Africa before tragedy talks of how happy he was

Shane O'Riordan and Niall O'Connor

Published 17/08/2015 | 02:30

Govan Jolliffe-Byrne (L) and Gary O'Donoghue (R)
Govan Jolliffe-Byrne (L) and Gary O'Donoghue (R)
Tragedy: Govan Jolliffe-Byrne

One of the friends of Govan Jolliffe-Byrne (20), who was backpacking with him in east Africa, has spoken of how the Dubliner had recently spoken of how happy he was with life.

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Govan, from Portmarnock in Dublin, died after falling from a balcony at a nightclub.

He was travelling with friend Gary O'Donoghue, who called him 'amazing'.

Mr O'Donoghue told the Irish Mirror: "He was an amazing person really.

"I worked with him, I was friends with him outside of work, I spent three months backpacking East Africa with him and I never saw him angry once.

"He was possibly the most easy going person I've ever met.

"On our way to Zanzibar a couple of weeks ago he told me if he died right now he's be OK with it.

"I know he didn't really mean it but it but it's a nice thought to hold on to, that he was completely content with life."

He is understood to have fallen from a balcony at a nightclub in Zanzibar, Tanzania, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Mr Jolliffe-Byrne had been backpacking around East Africa for the past three months with friends, and was due to be coming home soon.

Online photographs of the victim show him fishing, swimming and riding motorcycles.

The young man studied at NUI Maynooth, and had worked at Portmarnock Sports and Leisure Club as a bartender.

Tribute

In a tribute on Twitter yesterday evening, his local GAA club Naomh Mearnóg said he was "always the soul of the party and everyone's friend".

The statement added: "You will never be forgotten".

He was part of the Naomh Mearnóg GAA side that won the Under 21 'C' Championship in 2014.

Chairperson of Naomh Mearnóg, Michael Hannon, said that Govan was "everyone's friend".

"He was well-liked and really the life and soul of the party," said Mr Hannon.

"Nobody ever had a bad word to say about him. He was a lovely young fella," he added.

Mr Jolliffe-Byrne was also said to have been a very skilled chess player.

"He taught my young fella chess before. He was quite accomplished at it, I believe," said Mr Hannon.

Consular assistance is being provided to the to the young man's parents, Elaine and Bob.

The Department of Foreign Affairs have been in contact with the Irish Embassy in Dar es Salaam.

However, a department spokesman was unable to confirm further details of the incident.

Irish Independent

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