Sunday 21 December 2014

Tears and flowers at the spot where Jonny stood laughing only hours before

Published 03/02/2014 | 02:30

The body of student Jonny Byrne is taken away by a hearse after it was taken from the River Barrow, near Milford Bridge, Co Carlow, as family and friends look on.

THE flowers were whisked away with terrifying speed, twisting and turning along the flood-swollen waters.

One by one the Byrne family dropped the single roses into the River Barrow where their youngest son Jonny (19) had stood laughing and joking only hours before.

What had started out as a bit of fun on a Saturday night had ended in tragedy, leaving his parents Joe and Kathleen, and older brother Patrick, keeping a devastating vigil along a damp muddy riverbank at the normally picturesque Milford Bridge in Carlow.

Word of the Byrne family's tragic loss had spread swiftly – no doubt aided by the forthright words of Patrick, who lambasted a new drinking trend.

Family members, friends, young hurlers, footballers – and the many new friends he had made in Carlow IT after starting there in September as a business studies student – all lined out to show their support.

A family member patted the back of the emergency services in silent gratitude, as did the Leighlinbridge Parish Priest Fr Tom Lalor.

Hours after they first began combing the waters they gave the family as much as they could have hoped for. Shortly after 9am they recovered the body of the young hurler trapped only metres from where he was believed to have gone into the water.

Friends gathered around as Fr Lalor prayed for the well-liked young Naomh Brid hurler and Leighlinbridge footballer.

As quietly and efficiently as they had arrived, the garda sub-aqua unit and civil defence left to help another family in their search for a loved one believed lost in the River Barrow in Carlow town – just a few kilometres north of Milford Bridge. Looking back over his shoulder at the fire services' red tent, Patrick said he never wanted another family to experience the grief that had struck their household.

"It must stop now," he uttered starkly, of the game that has swept the country in recent weeks.

Young men lined the riverbank fighting back sobs as the body of Patrick's only brother was carefully lifted into the black hearse.

The hearse travelled in one direction, and the family took another route towards their grief-stricken homestead.

Irish Independent

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