UCC student died after fall from cliffs

A 21 year old student died after he fell from cliffs while free climbing at the coast near his home Co Dublin.

Conor Dunne from The Fairways, Donabate, Co Dublin has just completed a zoology degree at University College Cork.

He was climbing an 80ft high cliff face at an isolated spot along the Cliff Walk between Tower Bay in Portrane and Donabate Beach when he fell.

On the evening of June 20 2015 between Mr Dunne had taken his two dogs to the cliff and began climbing up the cliff face between 9pm and 10pm.

Witness Helen Neville saw him climbing around half way up the cliff face.

“He was climbing on his own, he had no ropes or climbing gear and no helmet or gloves that I could see. I’d never seen anyone climbing there before and shouted down to ask was he okay and he said yes he was fine,” she said.

She walked on along the track but turned back around two minutes later because she had a ‘bad feeling.’

“I looked down and saw him lying face down on the rocks,” Ms Neville said.

Two other walkers made their way down to the bottom of the cliff to assist the young man.

Emergency services were called and the young climber was evacuated by air ambulance to Tallaght Hospital where his condition deteriorated.

He died three days later on June 23, two weeks before his 22 birthday.

The cause of death was brain damage secondary to cranial cerebral trauma due to a fall from a height with multiple traumatic injuries sustained during a fall as contributory factors.

Garda Shane McGuinn said he had never heard of anyone climbing at that particular location before.

“The cliff face is very sheer and it drops down onto rocks. The location is isolated in that vehicular access is a ten minute walk away at either end of the Cliff Walk,” the garda said.

The young man’s mother Louise Dunne said her son had been climbing since he was a boy and climbing was his hobby.

He was a member of his college climbing club at UCC.

He had travelled to Singapore and Wales with his climbing club. He was fit and healthy, Louise Dunne said.

“He was talking about training to strengthen his hands, free holding or something like that. I said rule number one don’t go climbing on your own. He’d gone to town that day and bought chalk for his hands and he’d brought that with him,” Ms Dunne said.

Coroner Dr Crona Gallagher returned a verdict of death by misadventure and commended the family’s decision regarding organ donation which had benefited a number of people who were all doing well, the coroner said.


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