The family of 27-year-old Brian Forde, from Athenry in Co Galway, had been planning to celebrate his return to the local area today after a holiday to the US.
However, after a tragic accident in which he lost his life, this morning Mr Forde’s loved ones are instead making arrangements with the Department of Foreign Affairs to bring his body home.
The second of three children, Mr Forde had travelled to the US last month to play hurling and take some time off from his position as a material technology teacher at St Raphael’s College in Loughrea.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) have confirmed that Mr Forde had been socialising with at least seven other people on the roof of the West Side Inn Hotel on New York’s Upper West Side when he tragically fell from the building on Friday.
While medical examinations have ruled out the possibility of foul play, officers are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the young man’s death.
The teacher had been heavily involved with St Mary’s, his local GAA club, and in 2007 won a Galway championship under-21 hurling medal with the Athenry-based team.
During his trip to New York, the young man had also taken part in a game at Gaelic Park in the Bronx, the epicentre of New York’s GAA community.
While his parents Michael and Kathleen, older brother Tom and younger sister Claire were too distraught to speak last night, Athenry parish priest Fr Tony King said the community had been left “devastated” by the accident.
“It’s a cloudy and wet day here today, but it’s certainly much darker in the hearts and spirits and emotions here because they are just absolutely devastated,” said Fr King.
“They are so devastated by the whole experience. They are just beyond words really,” he said.