Mother breaks down at inquest recalling moments after 3-year-old son drowned

Children entering a hotel pool area were instructed to wait to be given armbands by kids club staff, an inquest heard, writes Louise Roseingrave.

At an inquest into the death of their child, the parents of a three-year-old boy who drowned at the Quality Hotel in Youghal, Co Cork heard there was one supervisor for every ten children.

Ronan Kennedy (3) from Templederry in Co Tipperary, died after attending his first kids club event on July 13 2015.

His father John Kennedy was putting on his armbands in the changing rooms at the hotel pool when his older son, Sean (7) told him not to. He said the children had been instructed not to wear their own armbands.

"I was about to put armbands on Ronan when Sean said they were told in class they would be tested and given armbands if needed," Mr Kennedy said.

The child's mother Bridget Kennedy said the reason she and her husband and three young sons went to the hotel for a three night break was because it was a known as a child friendly facility. The two older boys had never been to a kids club and were looking forward to the activities, she said.

"The kids were highly excited to have some independence," Mrs Kennedy said. The parents helped the boys to change and then left the pool area and returned to their hotel apartment with their one year old baby.

"Ronan was sitting on a chair on the plastic deck when we were leaving," Mrs Kennedy said. Asked if the pool was busy, she said it was 'not busy enough for what happened.'

Little Ronan, described as a magical little boy and a character who loved farming was found in the water by a hotel patron minutes later.

The family had just arrived back at their apartment when they received a call to return to the pool.

Brigid Kennedy broke down in tears in court as she recalled running back.

"I got a sick feeling in my stomach," she said. She saw her child in the arms of a man coming out of the leisure centre, she said.

"A man had Ronan in his arms, he was swollen and blue. In (hospital) in Cork we were told there was no hope, that Ronan was badly brain damaged," she said.

The inquest heard from a staff member that all children in the kids club would wear kids club armbands so staff could easily identify the children in their care. Muireann Aherne said children had to walk 7.5 metres along the pool side to get their armbands after exiting the changing room.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane adjourned the inquest to a later date to hear from a professional regarding risk assessment for children's activities at hotel pool facilities.

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