Death of siblings at Kerry beach the result of accidental drowning, inquest hears

51-year-old Dessie Byrne of Lecarrow, Co Roscommon, and his sister, 62-year-old Muriel Eriksson from Malmö, Sweden, who died as a result of accidental drowning while on holidays in Ballybunion.


An inquest into the death of a brother and sister at a Ballybunion beach while on holidays has found their cause of death to be accidental drowning.

In what was described at the time as one of the worst tragedies in 30 years in the North Kerry resort, both died at sea on August 4, 2022

The bodies of 51-year-old Dessie Byrne of Lecarrow, County Roscommon, and his sister, 62-year-old Muriel Eriksson from Malmö, Sweden, were recovered from the water that summer evening.

Coroner Helen Lucey gave the same verdict for the brother and sister, which was death by misadventure, and cause of death was accidental drowning, at Listowel Courthouse today, Friday, March 31.

The Coroner’s Court heard that there had been a significant rip current in the area at the time.

Evidence was given at the inquest by those who first saw the bodies, as well as first responders and lifeguards on duty.

A huge rescue effort took place on that fateful Thursday afternoon, involving Ballybunion Sea and Cliff Rescue, the RNLI, the Coastguard Helicopter and the Air Ambulance.

The brother and sisters were on holidays with Dessie Byrne’s teenage son when the tragedy unfolded.

Mr Byrne was originally from Athlone and was based in Lecarrow in Roscommon for many years, working there as a carpenter and carpet-layer.

His older sister had been living in Malmo in Sweden over recent years but maintained very close links to Ireland.

The siblings – along with Mr Byrne's teenage son – had decided to take a brief Irish holiday, including a visit to Ballybunion, while his sister was home from Sweden.

Kerry rescue officials described the tragedy as the worst swimming-related accident in the area for over 30 years.

The then-Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who had been visiting Kerry at the time of the tragedy, paid tribute to Mr Byrne and Ms Eriksson.

"We're all deeply shocked and saddened at this very tragic and heart-breaking loss of life on what was a beautiful day,” he said.

The two siblings died after getting into difficulty with notoriously strong currents offshore from Ballybunion beach.

Sympathy was expressed at the inquest to all those affected by the tragedy.