AN ASPIRING model collapsed and died from suspected sudden adult death syndrome (SADS) as she worked at a popular restaurant.
Deirdre Lynch (20), who featured in an Irish model of the future competition at University College Cork, died despite desperate efforts by paramedics and Cork University Hospital staff to save her.
Shocked staff at Eco restaurant in Douglas, Cork, said Deirdre (below) had been working happily alongside them on Saturday when she suddenly collapsed in the kitchen area.
Paramedics were at the scene within minutes and Deirdre's mother, Maire, raced to the restaurant to accompany her daughter in an ambulance to hospital.
The young waitress was pronounced dead shortly after admission.
A report will now be prepared for the Cork coroner's office but it is being treated as a suspected case of SADS.
Her sister, Kate, said the family were devastated. "As everyone can understand, my family and I are going through a very tough time right now," she said.
Ms Lynch appealed for the family's privacy to be respected and for people not to post messages on Deirdre's Facebook page.
The restaurant owner, David Halpin, paid tribute to Deirdre as "an amazing girl and a wonderful colleague, Deirdre worked with us for just under two years. She was an amazing girl who had everything going for her", he said.
"She was beautiful, friendly and a great work colleague. Our hearts go out to her family at this tragic time."
Deirdre was a second-year arts student at UCC but also had dreams of becoming a full-time model. She had a number of contracts with Irish agencies and her work appeared in numerous Cork magazines and newspapers with friends describing her photographic portfolio as "stunning".
Deirdre was a former student at Christ the King secondary school. A school spokeswoman said they were "shocked and devastated" at her tragic death.
"Deirdre epitomised all that was good about the school. She was a former head girl and led by example."
Deirdre's parents, Kevin and Maire, were "too devastated" to comment on the tragedy at their Browningstown Park home in Douglas.
The young woman is survived by her parents, her sister, Kate, and her grandmother, Breda.
She will be removed from Temple Hill funeral home tonight to the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes for 11am Requiem Mass tomorrow.