Area in shock after South Roscommon man and his sister die in drowning tragedy

Local communities in Athlone and South Roscommon are trying to come to terms with the news that the victims of yesterday evening's horrific drowning tragedy in Kerry were a Lecarrow resident, originally from Baylough in Athlone, and his sister who was on a visit home from Sweden.

The incident occurred at around 6pm yesterday evening when the man, in his 50s, and his sister, in her 60s, got into difficulty in the water at Ballybunion beach in Kerry.

They were taken from the water and pronounced dead a short time later. Gardai are treating the drownings as a tragic accident.

South Roscommon councillor Laurence Fallon said he knew the man well, describing him as a hard-working person, a father who was devoted to his family, and someone who was involved in the community.

The man had helped to provide sandbags to residents affected by flooding at Lough Funshinagh, and was a strong advocate for carers, Cllr Fallon said.

He said it was his understanding that the family had only travelled to Kerry yesterday morning, a matter of hours before the tragic events unfolded.

The local councillor said the deceased man "will be sorely missed by the community... It's a terrible loss for his family, of course, but the wider community will feel the pain of his loss also.

"All we can do is hope and pray that the family will be able to cope as best they can and that the community will rally around them and support them in any way they can, and I think they will do that.

"It's an absolutely terrible tragedy, one that the community is numb from," he added.

The man's sister was paying a visit to Ireland from Malmo, in Sweden, where she was living.

Broadcaster Brenda Donohue tweeted that she was at Ballybunion beach yesterday evening and saw the efforts of emergency services to save the lives of the man and his sister.

Both of the deceased were taken by ambulance to the mortuary in University Hospital Kerry.