Baltimore Drownings: Community rallies around Niamh’s family

A Cork community is trying to comfort the family of a young woman whose life was tragically cut short when she drowned in West Cork on Tuesday night.

Baltimore Drownings: Community rallies around Niamh’s family

Niamh O’Connor, who lived near Glanmire, was a member of a highly respected family, many of whom are steeped in GAA.

The 20-year-old went to Scoil Chill Ruadháin NS in Brooklodge before attending Glanmire Community College (GCC).

She then went on to study at UCC, where she was in the second year of a social science degree.

UCC is offering counselling facilities to her fellow students throughout the summer if they require it.

Niamh lived at Blossom Grove, about 3km east of Glanmire on the Knockraha road.

Although she lived in the Glounthaune parish, her family is heavily associated with the Glanmire-based Sarsfield’s Hurling Club.

Her great-grandfather, Bertie Murphy, was president of the club up until his death in 1999.

Her grand-uncles Bertie Óg and Tadhg Óg Murphy, the current Sarsfield’s chairman, played hurling with Cork and have been the backbone of the local club for years.

Niamh’s grandmother, Ann Walsh, ran the Old Court Takeaway in Riverstown for several years and only a couple of months ago buried her husband, Paddy, who served as the chairman of the Sarsfield’s juvenile club.

“We are all in complete shock,” said Sarsfield’s GAA Club secretary Jimmy Murphy. “Niamh’s family have a long association with the club. All our thoughts and prayers are with the O’Connor family and Niamh’s many friends.”

Curate Fr John Heinhold, who works in both Glanmire and Glounthaune parishes, visited Niamh’s parents, Paul and Catherine, yesterday along with her younger sister, Clodagh, 17.

“It is a terrible tragedy for the family and the community around them,” said Fr Heinhold. “We’re trying to comfort the family the best we can in such a difficult situation.”

A UCC spokesman said: “We would like to express our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Niamh O’Connor, a second-year student who has passed away.

“Barry Ryan and Barry Davis Ryan and their family and friends are similarly very much in our thoughts at this time. Counselling supports are available throughout the summer and beyond should they be needed by students or staff.”

UCC also plans to open a book of condolences “to allow the community to express their sympathies” and will also fly its flag at half-mast as a mark of respect.

Niamh worked part-time in Penneys in Cork City. Her boyfriend, Barry Davis Ryan, who is still missing, also worked there, as did his late father, Barry Ryan.

The company issued a statement yesterday: “We can confirm that two members of Penneys staff lost their lives in an incident off the coast of West Cork on Tuesday 30 June and that a third person is still missing, also a member of Penneys staff.

“This matter is under investigation by the Garda and we cannot comment further. All were much loved and respected colleagues and our thoughts are with their families at this very difficult time.”

Labour Party senator John Gilroy, who lives in Glanmire, described Niamh as a very popular young woman with a very wide circle of friends.

“The whole community has been rocked by this tragedy. They are in utter shock,” he said.

Fr Reinhold said prayers will be said at the O’Connor household at 8.30pm on Friday.

Niamh’s body will then be removed to the Church of the Sacred Heart, Glounthaune for requiem Mass at 10am on Saturday.

She will be buried afterwards at St Catherine’s Cemetery, Kilcully.

UCC counselling services are available at 021 4903563, counselling@ucc.ie, or via ucc.ie/studentcounselling/ supporting

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