Ronan Kennedy, from Templederry, Co Tipperary, died after attending his first kids’ club event at the Quality Hotel in Youghal, Co Cork, on July 13, 2015. The inquest heard there was one supervisor for every 10 children.
His father John Kennedy was putting on his son’s armbands in the changing rooms at the hotel pool when his older son, Seán, 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 Seán said they were told in class they would be tested and given armbands if needed,” said Mr Kennedy.
The child’s mother, Bridget Kennedy, said the two older boys had never been to a kids’ club and were looking forward to the activities.
“The kids were highly excited to have some independence,” she 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,” said Ms Kennedy. Asked if the pool was busy, she said it was “not busy enough for what happened”.
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. Ms 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 7.5m along the pool side to get their armbands.
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.