'Neknomination' death family: "We were just hoping it was a dream’

This day last week the sports-mad student Jonny Byrne was at home with his family in Carlow.

'Neknomination' death family: "We were just hoping it was a dream’

Last night the 19-year-old’s father and brother were fighting back the tears on the Late Late Show pleading with others not to fall victim to the drink-related craze that led to his death.

Joe Byrne spoke about how the night after Jonny fell into the river he and his wife lay awake unable to sleep. They tried to talk and cried.

“We were just hoping it was a dream,” he said.

Joe Byrne went on the show because he said despite his grief he had been struck by a calmness as he tried to appeal to other young people and their parents to stop the neknomination craze before another life was lost.

Jonny had taken a concoction of three drinks after being put up to the dare when his turn came up in the neknomination fad.

He fell into a river swollen from the recent rainstorms. His brother, Patrick, tried to save him but the current was too strong.

Joe said before they had the chance to search the banks the next morning he got a call to say the Dublin sub-aqua club had found a body.

“When we got down he was in this tent, one of these big tents, we got to see him and it was not a pleasant sight. It will stay in my mind forever,” he said.

The business student’s brother Patrick, who had tried to pull him to shore before the River Barrow dragged him under, also spoke.

He said his mother was not doing well since the death of Jonny and what had started out as a dare had gone too far.

He said it began with people drinking beer but it became overtaken by people downing large volumes of spirits in a trend fuelled by bullying.

Joe Byrne said he did not know what the nomination game was a week ago and now it had ruined his life and taken his son.

More in this section

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence

Home Delivery


Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.