'Huge sense of loss and sadness' following death of 'outgoing' Jack Downey

'Huge sense of loss and sadness' following death of 'outgoing' Jack Downey

Update 12pm: The head of Student Affairs at Cork Institute of Technology Dr Dan Collins has said there is a "huge sense of loss and sadness" at the passing of much loved first year student Jack Downey. 

Jack, 19, from Clonmel, Co Tipperary, was hospitalised over the weekend after taking a substance at the popular Indiependence music festival in Mitchelstown, Co Cork.

He went in to the medical centre at the festival on Friday night amid complaints of feeling unwell.

He was transferred to Cork University Hospital where he died yesterday.

Dr Collins told Cork's 96FM that Jack was "vivacious and outgoing."

"He was an enthusiastic young lad. He loved life. He loved living. Involved in sport.

Very popular - not just among his peers in the classroom but he was involved in extra curricular activities here in the institute.

Just a lovely young energetic talented lad.

"I spoke to his mum yesterday evening. Naturally enough they are devastated and we extend our sincere sympathy, thoughts and prayers with his parents, family and friends.

"Naturally enough they are dealing with the loss of their son and it is a difficult time. They are aware of the great support that people are offering to them at this time."

Counselling services are available to impacted students. They are asked to contact the Institute with any concerns. 

Dr Collins says when students return to campus next month the loss will fully hit them. 

"Jack had successfully completed his first year and was due to return in September. When they return to campus we will meet them.

"We will be bringing across to them again to avail of the supports on campus. "

Dr Collins is stressing the dangers of drug use to students, saying it was important for friends to look out for one another.

"That is most important. That if they become aware that a friend has become unwell that there is an issue.

If they are using drugs to be aware of the consequences but also of the supports they may need to have in place for that.

Meanwhile, the sister of a teenage boy who died after taking the synthetic "N Bomb" drug has urged people to reflect following the death of Jack. 

Alex Ryan, of Liscahane in Millstreet, Co Cork died on January 23 2016 after consuming a synthetic drug of the 2C family called 251 NBOMe known as N Bomb at a house party in the city.

Three people were charged and received suspended sentences in relation to his death. 

Nicole Ryan has campaigned to create better awareness on the dangers of drugs since the passing of her eighteen year old brother. 

Nicole says while the majority of us were out enjoying the bank holiday weekend, two parents received a call that every single parent fears.

 "They spent the weekend sitting in the ICU beside their boys bedside hoping and praying that he would wake up and get better, everyone prayed and everyone hoped. 

"Unfortunately this was sadly not the case and in the space of 3 days a beautiful life was gone, Jack was gone. 

Alex and nicole Ryan
Alex and nicole Ryan

"While the circumstances surrounding his death are not yet fully know, a substance was involved. Like so many others who attended the festival I am certain Jack was not the only one who may have ingested a substance but sadly he was the only one to pay the ultimate price. 

"To the people that judge and sit on their pillar of gold - reserve your judgement and think of his family and his friends at this time.

"What they have been lunged into is a situation I would not wish on my worst enemy or anybody at all for that matter. "

Nicole says Jack was young, smart, loving and had a bright future ahead of him and all that was taken away in one split decision. 

"Reserve your judgement and if you must judge then judge our drug education system.

"A system that is flawed, that uses scare tactics and nonfactual information, a system that is heavily reliant on just teacher who are overworked already to educate young people on substances. 

We are all at fault here.

"If you cannot empathize then at least sympathies with Jack and his loved ones as this can happen to anybody at absolutely anytime. "

Ms Ryan has visited dozens of schools around the country since the death of her brother to speak to students and to raise awareness of the dangers of synthetic drugs.

Earlier: Hundreds attend mass for 'absolute gentleman' Jack Downey who died after Cork's Indiependence Festival

- By Digital Desk staff

Tributes are being paid to a Tipperary teenager who died after taking a substance at a music festival over the weekend.

Jack Downey from Clonmel passed away after three days at Cork University Hospital.

The 19-year-old died on Monday after becoming ill while attending the Indiependence Festival in Mitchelstown, Co Cork.

He was taken to CUH on Friday after presenting at the festival’s medical tent complaining of feeling unwell.

Festival organisers issued an alert about a “bad batch of something” on the campsite on Friday, and the hospital confirmed that a “single patient with a severe illness” had been admitted from the festival that evening.

A former student at CBS High School in Clonmel, Mr Downey had recently finished his first year in college.

His father Johnny is a garda in Clonmel, and his mother Elaine is a jeweller in the town.

Hundreds attended a special mass for Jack last night which was organised before he died. Mayor of Clonmel Garret Ahern said it was important that it still went ahead.

"We had a Mass for Jack in his local GAA club, Clonmel Óg," said Mr Ahern. "And we had over 400 people who attended at real short notice.

"Jack's parents Johnny and Elaine came back from Cork to attend as well.

"As you can imagine it was a hugely emotional time for them and for everyone there.

"This has been an incredible shock for the community."

Tributes on the club's facebook page referred to Jack as a "beautiful boy", a "lovely young man" and a "beautiful soul" who was "an absolute gentleman".

Local parish priest Fr Michael Twomey said the mass was initially organised for Jack's recovery.

"Sadly when the news broke yesterday that he had passed away in Cork, that mass then became a tribute to him. A Mass of memory for him," said Fr Twomey

"There was hundreds of people there, of all age groups. Particularly, of course, his teammates and his close friends.

"And it was one of just gathering us all together as a young community."

Fr Twomey said Jack's death was a “sad and realistic wake-up call” that there is a “massive problem” with drugs in Ireland.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast he said he will offering support to some of Jack’s friends.

"Today and the next few days my role here is to be with Jack's friends and I'm meeting a few of them today, I've spoken to a few parents, just to help them deal with the loss," said Fr Twomey.

"For many of them this is the first time they've had to deal with a death and so we need to help them with their grieving process.

"That's why the Clonmel Og club are offering counselling services as well, because obviously the schools are out, they're not back for another couple of weeks."

The organisers of Indiependence, which saw 15,000 people attend at the weekend, issued a statement on Monday evening saying their “immediate thoughts and those of all the festival-goers are with the family, relatives and friends of the deceased at their very sad loss”.

Gardaí confirmed on Monday that investigations are ongoing in relation to the teenager’s death.

- additional reporting by Ryan O’Neill

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