Boy, 13, killed in freak accident on school lunch break was 'loveliest chap'

Harry Byrne of Gowran, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland, was hit in the neck by a sliotar while playing with friends at St. Kieran’s College

Harry Byrne died on Tuesday

One teenager who died in an accident while on a lunch break at school was a promising young hurler destined to become a star, family friends say.

Harry Byrne of Gowran, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland, was said to have been hit in the throat by a sliotar, a slinging ball that damaged a carotid artery in his throat.

The 13-year-old was enjoying his lunch break at St. Kieran’s College in Kilkenny on Monday when the tragedy struck the Irish mirror.

The freshman was admitted to St. Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny and then transferred to a hospital in Dublin, but sadly passed away on Tuesday.

Ciaran Phelan, a family friend and vice chairman of Harry’s local GAA club Young Irelands, remembered the “great” boy as “the nicest guy to meet.”

St. Kieran’s College in Kilkenny

He said to RTE’s Claire Byrne, “His enthusiasm, his smile, his manners, everything about Harry stood out and he was an honor to his family and his club. He was a nice guy.

“He’s probably grown a foot in the past year and a half since Covid.”

According to Mr Phelan, Harry was making “real progress” in slingshots, recently winning two county championships under 13, and being called to exams for Kilkenny County Development.

Mr. Phelan comes from a well-respected GAA family and said Harry would have received a “huge” call for Kilkenny.

He added, “He’s played other sports but the hurling is huge for Harry and his family and this would have been a tremendous honor for Harry and his family.”

“Harry, as an important member of the team, he flew it.

“He was recently called up for trial runs for U13 development teams. He was also recently selected for football testing on a team I know at St. Kieran’s College.

“Harry was doing really well.”

Labor councilor Denis Hynes, a neighbor of the Byrnes, said the entire community was “sad and shocked”.

He told RTE News at One, “It is a terribly sad time for all of us here. I can’t imagine what it’s like for Harry’s mom and dad, it’s so tough.

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“The pain felt for the family cannot be measured, it is the greatest fear of all, the heart breaks”.

Cllr Hynes coached Harry in football at Bridge United FC in Goresbridge, County Kilkenny and said it was “a pleasure to coach”.

He added, “He wanted to be the next pro, but his true love was flinging.

“He had trials there for the Kilkenny County Development Team last Saturday week and he was hoping to make it and they were waiting for word.”

He described Harry as “a lovely, lovable guy, full of energy and very popular in our club, Young Irelands and [St] He and Kierans had many friends in the Gowran, Clara and Goresbridge areas ”.

In an obituary notice, Harry’s inconsolable parents, Fergal and Annette, told of their torments. They wrote: “Our dear Harry left us suddenly and unexpectedly.

“Deeply regrets of his heartbroken parents Fergal and Annette, his lovable brothers and sisters Jake, Aimee and Sam, his esteemed grandparents Teresa Byrne, Martin and Mary (Nolan), aunts, uncles, great aunts, great uncles, cousins, relatives and one another large circle of friends. “

Kilkenny RFC, where Harry played for the U14, called him “a fantastic little boy who is larger than life”.

A club spokesperson said: “We are empty of sadness over the heartbreaking and tragic news that hit the Byrne family earlier this week.

“Harry’s memory will live on with his teammates, coaches and friends.”

Gardai said they are treating the incident as a tragic accident.

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