Tuesday 21 May 2019

'You were a a rare gem and loved by so many' - Tributes paid to Irishman who drowned in New York

Niall Gibbons (inset) went missing after swimming in new York
Niall Gibbons (inset) went missing after swimming in new York

Kathy Armstrong and Amy Molloy

Tributes have been pouring in for a "cherished" Irish man who tragically drowned in New York this week.

Niall Gibbons (30), who was from Castletroy in Limerick, went swimming with friends off Long Beach at around 2am last Monday but the group are understood to have gotten into trouble in the water.

His friends managed to safely make it back to the shore and raise the alarm.

Following an extensive search operation, Mr Gibbons' body was found by a couple between Edwards and Riverside boulevards at around 1am on Wednesday, police told the Long Island Herald.

Friends have been paying tribute to the Limerick man on social media.

“You were a rare gem and loved by so many, and I know your spirit will shine on forever,” one friend said.

“There are no words to express how deeply you will be missed,” another wrote.

A notice posted on RIP.ie yesterday evening said that Niall was a "much loved son" and "cherished brother" who is mourned by his parents Ray and Maria, sister Sharon, extended family and many friends.

His funeral mass will be held at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Milford on Wednesday.

His family has requested that people make donations if desired to the Kevin Bell Repatriation in lieu of flowers.

Mr Gibbons' went missing just hours after a body believed to be that of Ramell McRae Junior (10) was found.

He disappeared in the same vicinity as Mr Gibbons after he was swimming with his older brother last week.

The US Coast Guard is pleading with swimmers to be aware of the dangers of the sea.

They said on their website: "The Coast Guard urges anyone who enters open water to wear a life jacket.

"The ocean, even near the shoreline, can be unpredictable and overtake even the strongest swimmer.

"Always be alert to current conditions, especially any rip-tide warnings, and only enter the water when a lifeguard is present."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said that they "cannot comment on individual consular cases."

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