Teenager killed after being hit with sliotar in 'tragic accident' at Kilkenny school

Harry Byrne (13) was hit by a sliotar while playing hurling with friends at lunchtime on Monday.
Teenager killed after being hit with sliotar in 'tragic accident' at Kilkenny school

Sarah Slater

A teenage boy who died following an incident at St Kieran’s College in Kilkenny city on Monday afternoon is expected to be laid to rest on Friday.

Harry Byrne (13) from Gowran, Co Kilkenny, who was named locally, was rushed to St Luke’s General Hospital on Monday after being hit by a sliotar in the head while playing with friends at lunchtime.

The first year student was taken to the hospital by emergency services but died on Tuesday.

Management at the school have expressed their deep regret over the incident.

In a statement the school said: "St Kieran’s College deeply regrets that a tragic accident happened at lunchtime yesterday (Monday) involving a young student of our school.

"The accident occurred while the students were playing normally. This is a terrible tragedy for his family, friends, parish and all in our school community. You will understand the need for privacy at this time.

"Prayers and offers of support have been pouring in and are greatly appreciated."

The statement added: "Psychologists from the National Educational Psychological Service are present with us in the school supporting and advising teachers in their efforts to care for our students at this time.

"The school continues to be open to parents, to support them and to offer them advice and guidance.

"Each and every one of our students are precious to us – we pray for each other today – May St Kieran be a support at this time."

The teenager, who is survived by his parents, Fergal and Annette, and three siblings, will be buried following his Requiem Mass on Friday at the Church of the Assumption in Gowran.

Gardaí have confirmed they are aware of the incident and are treating it as a tragic accident. A file is being prepared for the Coroner’s Court.


Local councillor Denis Hynes, who was Harry's soccer coach, described him as "a wonderful kid, full of energy".

"He played soccer for me, he was a right little goalkeeper, but his first love was hurling," Cllr Hynes said. "He was an up and coming player, a great player with a lovely attitude."

It was hard to understand or make sense of what had happened, he added. It was “absolutely devastating” for everyone who knew him, as he was "well known and well liked".

Cllr Hynes said he hoped Harry’s death would not deter others from continuing sporting activities: "Life is precious, this is an awful time, but kids should still be encouraged to go out and play sport."

Hurling was part of the fabric of life in Kilkenny, he added, explaining that St Kieran’s College has a long tradition of producing talented hurlers, including Henry Shefflin, DJ Carey and Eddie Keher.

Harry was hoping to be the next Henry Shefflin or DJ Carey, Cllr Hynes said: “Sadly his life was cut too short.”

Earlier, Cllr Andrew McGuiness told Newstalk Breakfast the whole of Kilkenny city and county was in shock with the news of the "freak accident".

It was very sad for the community of St Kieran’s College, and for the student’s family and friends, he said, adding the incident had happened when the boy was "playing the game he loved".

Hurling had "huge support" in Kilkenny and everybody loved the game, so it was so sad that a freak incident had resulted in the loss of a young life, Cllr McGuinness said.

The mayor called on people to respect and support the family at this difficult time. – Additional reporting: Vivienne Clarke

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