Saturday 26 May 2018

Revealed: More than five Irish people died abroad every week last year

* New stats show 1,537 people died abroad in the last seven years
* Spain has more than double the number of Irish deaths as any other country
* Department of Foreign Affairs issues advice to travellers ahead of the summer season

Cathal McMahon and Garry Toal

Over 1,500 Irish people have died abroad since 2009 - startling new statistics have revealed.

Last year was the worst in recent times with 263 Irish people losing their lives abroad - 65 of these were in Spain alone.

Ahead of the holiday season the Department of Foreign Affairs has now issued a warning to all travellers to get insurance and register their travel plans.

The figures, obtained exclusively by, reveal that 369 Irish people died in Spain in the period from 2009 to 2015.

Among those to lose their lives in the Mediterranean country are gangland victims Gary Hutch in September 2015 and Gerard ‘Hatchet’ Kavanagh in 2014.

Many other deaths were not connected to criminality.

Gary Hutch (34) murdered on September 24, 2015

Gary Hutch (34) murdered on September 24, 2015

Gerard Kavanagh

Gerard 'Hatchet' Kavanagh

The USA has the second largest number of deaths in the same period with 153.

Last year was the worst on record for the States with 29 – including the five Irish students who died in the Berkeley balcony collapse.

Students Olivia Burke, Eoghan Culligan, Lorcán Miller, Niccolai (Nick) Schuster and Eimear Walsh, all 21 years old, and Ms Burke’s cousin Ashley Donohoe, 22, of Rohnert Park, California, died when the fourth-floor balcony they were standing on collapsed during a 21st birthday party in the early hours of June 16, 2015.

The six students who lost their lives in the tragic accident, top left to bottom right: Lorcan Miller, Eoghan Culligan, Nick Schuster, Ashley Donohoe, Eimear Walsh and Olivia Burke

Australia with 135 and Great Britain with 132 are in third and fourth positions while 84 Irish people died in Thailand in the same period.

Our interactive chart (above) shows the total breakdown across the globe.

Among those who lost their lives in the UK in the last number of years were student Karen Buckley who was murdered last April by Alexander Pacteau.

The Department of Foreign Affairs also provided assistance to the family of vet Catherine Gowing who was brutally murdered and dismembered in Wales in October 2012.

Vet Catherine Gowing who was murdered by Clive Sharp

Catherine Gowing

There have been a number of high profile deaths in Australia in the last number of years including the brutal rape and murder of Jill Meagher in September 2012.

The Department of Foreign Affairs did not break down the numbers by age, gender or cause of death.

In total 1,537 people died abroad in the seven years up to and including 2015.

A spokeswoman for the department issued some advice to all those travelling abroad this summer: “We strongly recommend that when travelling abroad that the person travelling obtains comprehensive travel insurance as it is in these difficult scenarios that having the right cover can make things a lot easier for the next-of-kin.

Jill Meagher

Jill Meagher who was murdered in Melbourne, Australia in September 2012

“Irish citizens travelling or living overseas are encouraged to register their contact details with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“The information will allow us to contact the person travelling, and provide assistance, if necessary and possible, if there is an unforeseen crisis such as a natural disaster or civil unrest, or if the person travelling has a family emergency while overseas. “

The spokeswoman explained that a death abroad can be particularly upsetting for family in Ireland.

“Under the best of circumstances, learning of the death of a loved one is difficult. In our experience, this is exacerbated when that person was travelling abroad and it is an exceptionally difficult situation for the family to find themselves.

“When notified of the death of an Irish citizen abroad, the Department’s priority is to try to ensure that the family is informed of the death as soon as possible and in the most appropriate way possible.

“We work closely with An Garda Síochána to ensure this happens quickly and sensitively. Once the family has been informed, the role of the Department is to assist them in navigating the official processes that are required when a person dies abroad and to assist by minimising any delay caused by local red tape around the formalities.

“We can also provide the family with practical local information, assist with initial interpretation to get key information to the family and in so far as we may be able to, assist with any visa issues or emergency travel documentation that may arise for family travelling at short notice.”

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