Ballybunion’s drowning tragedy: ‘So united in life, now they are together in heaven forever’ – nephew pays tribute


Tragic siblings Muriel Eriksson and Dessie Byrne, who drowned while swimming off the coast of Co Kerry last week, “had a special bond,” their funeral service has heard.

Esmond ‘Dessie’ Byrne (52), originally from Athlone but living with his family in Lecarrow Co Roscommon, drowned along with his sister Muriel Eriksson (62) who lives in Sweden.

Paying tribute to her, her nephew Keith Byrne remembered Dessie as “a wonderful father, partner and uncle, and a friend to all.”

“He’s been Paulette’s rock and soulmate for 24 years.

“How can you even describe the wonderful father who was Des to his adorable sons Dean and Josh?

“You were quite simply his whole life – the entire universe.

“We remember his funky sense of humor, his brutal honesty, his sense of always knowing the best.

“He loved the simple things in life – his dog Darcy, his cat Ginger and his chickens Heineken and Bud.

“Anyone who knew Des will remember his helpfulness and love for family and community.

“He loved his adventures with his beloved sister, Muriel. They had a special bond and understanding for each other.

“They were so united in life, and now they are together in heaven forever.”

Muriel’s son John fought back tears as he told mourners he was speaking from his heart.

“My mother was the most loving and caring person I have ever met.

“I remember when she came here she hardly had room for clothes in her bag because she had so many gifts.”

John Eriksson read Muriel a letter from his son Liam, in which the little boy wrote how much he loved her and that he would see her again in heaven.

Father Ray Milton, the parish priest of Lecarrow, said the loss of Dessie and Muriel to their families was “unimaginable” and what should have been a happy family holiday in a beautiful part of Ireland has turned into a nightmare.

He told the congregation that Muriel and Dessie were the youngest and the oldest in the Byrne family.

“They were close in life and they died together, and we pray that they will be united in God’s heavenly home.

“What started as a few days vacation in a beautiful part of our country quickly turned into a nightmare.

“The sense of confusion we all share cannot rival what you, your families, are feeling at this time.

“This is one of the most difficult things to face in life.

“Our words seem useless and inadequate, and at times perhaps unhelpful.

“We can only hope and pray that our presence will support you in these darkest of days.

“Our wish would be to ease your pain and mend your broken hearts. However, this is not possible, because where there is so much love, there will also be a lot of pain.

“Especially when we lose people we love very much.”

Father Milton recalled a conversation with Dessie’s partner, Paulette.

“Paulette told me on the night of the tragedy, before she received the news, that she was able to see a beautiful rainbow.

“I looked up the lyrics somewhere Over the Rainbowwhich seemed very appropriate today.

“It’s about appreciating what’s important in life and beyond.

“We heard in the first reading that it is important to live life to the full and to do everything possible to help others.

“We should live each day as if it were our last

“To appreciate what we have — the relationships and friendships we enjoy and the world we share.

“We are reminded in the second reading that our good deeds do not go unnoticed by God, and we know that Muriel and Dessie were generous in their giving in so many ways during their lifetime.

“There are times, and this is such a time, when our world is turned upside down and we don’t know what to think or what to believe.

“We’re on a roller coaster of emotions and we can’t think straight and our lives are in disarray.

“The story of (Jesus rose from the dead) conquered death and gave us the hope of eternal life.

“We hope that as a family you will recognize Jesus as a companion. That he is with you on the journey of life.

“All the ties and friendships and affections that bind us throughout our lives don’t break with death. Our goodbyes are not forever, but until we meet again.

“Dessie and Muriel, you cared about each other in life. May you now be united in the place of rest and peace that God has prepared over the rainbow,” Father Milton said.

During the service, prayers were offered for those in Ballybunion who came to the aid of the brethren, desperate to save their lives. Ballybunion’s drowning tragedy: ‘So united in life, now they are together in heaven forever’ – nephew pays tribute

Fry Electronics Team

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