FUNERAL details have been released for a tragic Kilkenny boy who was killed in a freak accident while playing in school.
Harry Byrne (13) from Gowran, Co Kilkenny, died after being struck by a sliotar at his school. He was a promising young hurler who dreamed of one day playing for Kilkenny.
Today, funeral details were released for the young boy, who will be reposing at his home tomorrow from 4pm until 7.30pm with the home strictly private.
His removal to the church of the Assumption, Gowran, will take place on Friday morning, arriving for requiem mass at 11am followed by burial in the adjoining cemetery.
Mayor of Kilkenny, Cllr Andrew McGuinness, paid tribute to the young boy and his family.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Mayor McGuinness said the news was "devastating".
"Both city and county is in shock here. It's very sad for the community there, and St Kieran's college and I want to send my thoughts and sympathies to his family and friends at this very difficult time.
"It was a freak accident playing the sport that he loved with friends, which is deeply saddening. The school, St Kieran's College, is a well-respected school and well known and has produced some fantastic scholars and fantastic hurlers, so it is deeply shocking and very sad.
"Everyone knows it in Kilkenny that hurling is a huge sport. He was a lover of hurling and unfortunately it was a freak accident which I suppose happens in every kind of sport, but it's just hugely unfortunate that this is after happening such a young man in Kilkenny and we're after losing a young life.
"It's very sad for everyone in Kilkenny, even those that don't know him or his family.”
Local councillor Denis Hynes lives just down the road from the Byrne family home. He knew Harry well, both as a neighbour and his former soccer coach at the Bridge United Football Club in nearby Goresbridge, Co Kilkenny.
He said Harry’s family, including his two brothers and two sisters, and parents Annette and Fergal Byrne, are absolutely devastated after Harry was taken off life support at a hospital in Dublin yesterday.
He was initially rushed to St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny after he suffered catastrophic head injuries following the accident on Monday.
While the cause of the accident remains under investigation, it appears that the sliotar hit Harry in the head while he was playing with friends in the school yard at lunch at his secondary school, St Kieran’s College in Kilkenny city.
Mr Hynes said the entire community is in shock.
"People have no words,” he said.
He described Harry as a popular and likeable young man who was “full of energy” and loved sports, especially hurling.
"No question, hurling was his first love,” he told Independent.ie.
Harry’s under-13 hurling club, Young Irelands in Gowran, won the A1 championship last month for the second consecutive year and Harry had just recently tried out for Kilkenny under-13 development team. He was anxiously awaiting word to see if he made the team, he said.
Club chairman Denis Quinlan said all training sessions and fixtures have been cancelled as a mark of respect to Harry and his family.
"We’re all shell shocked. It’s unprecedented,” he said of the nature of the accident.
"There’s no template for something like this.”
"As a club, we want to do as much as we can to help the family.”
He said Harry was “a grand young fella” who as recently as last week was out selling programmes for the club to raise funds.
Mr Quinlan added that Harry, who typically played half-forward for the club, was a promising young player whose death has left his fellow teammates bereft.
Meanwhile, St Kieran’s College issued a statement last night on the tragedy.
It read: “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 for us a support at this time.”
Gardaí confirmed that they are treating the incident as a “tragic accident” and are investigating the circumstances of it.
A file will be prepared for the Coroner’s Court in due course, it was confirmed in a statement.