Family of Irishman killed in New Zealand harbour praise friends for support


Geraldine Gittens

THE family of an Irishman who died in New Zealand have thanked his friends, saying their their compassion has helped them to cope with the tragedy.

Finbarr Clabby (39), from Galway, was found dead at Wellington Harbour on Sunday.

He had been attending a rugby match the night before and was last seen at about 1am according to police, who have said his death is not suspicious.

Finbarr's older brother Dan said he was a very popular man who had a wide network of friends in New Zealand.

"The Clabby family feel very comforted by the fact that he had so many loyal friends in New Zealand," Dan said.

"By all accounts he had so many friends in New Zealand, there are so many messages coming through on Facebook about him.

"Our shared, sudden tragedy is made easier by the compassion shown in sympathetic messages from home and abroad."

"He was very well known in the New Zealand/Irish community and he was on a soccer team as well," Dan said.

Finbarr had attended the Super Rugby final in Wellington's Westpac Stadium with a friend on the night before he was found dead.

"The night before he was found there was a big rugby game, it was the rugby equivalent of the Champions League final over there.

"He was there with one of his pals and they went to a bar and then they went their separate ways home. Then Finbarr was found the next morning," Dan said.

"The main thing is to express our appreciation of the fact that he had so many loyal friends in New Zealand."

Finbarr had been home twice in the last 18 months, and one of these trips was to celebrate his sister's wedding. Though he loved home, Finbarr had a great life in New Zealand, Dan added.


"One of his pals said he couldn't go down a street in Wellington without someone stopping for a chat, he was so popular."

A Wellington police spokesperson said Finbarr's body was seen in the harbour at 10.46am on Sunday morning, New Zealand time.

His body was taken to the mortuary, where an initial examination was carried out.

No foul play is suspected, but the spokesperson said a post mortem will be carried out to confirm the cause of death.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said it is providing consular assistance to his family.

One of Finbarr's friends, owner of the Welsh Dragon pub Joanna Howard, paid tribute.

"We are all so sorry for the tragic loss of the very lovable Fin, who was part of our family at the Welsh bar. It will not be the same here without him, he was a legend," she wrote.

Staff and friends will attend a wake on Monday night for a "well-loved" and "special" guy, Howard added.