Body of young man recovered from River Barrow

The body of a 19-year-old man has been recovered from the river Barrow in Carlow this morning.

The man has been named locally as Jonny Byrne from Leighlinbridge, a former pupil of St Mary's College, Knockbeg and a member of the Naomh Bríd Hurling Club, Leighlinbridge GFC and Michael Davitts Juvenile Football Club.

(Jonny Byrne, left, with an unidentified friend. Picture via Facebook)

His death has been linked to the social media drinking craze 'neknominations', in which participants are challenged to drink a quantity of alcohol and post a video clip online, then nominating another person to do the same and post a video within 24 hours.

The drinking trend is thought to have originated in Australia and has gained pace on social media since early January.

In a statement posted to Facebook Mr Byrne's brother Patrick said Jonny "thought he had to try and beat the competition" and drank a pint before jumping into the river.

Patrick Byrne appealed to anyone reading the message to share it worldwide in an effort to halt the 'neknomination' craze.

A search operation was launched yesterday after Mr Byrne went into the water.

"He was a warrior on the pitch, a rock in defence and gave 100% on the pitch every time," said a post on the Carlow GAA Facebook page.

"A kind soul well liked throughout Carlow especially in hurling, he was a great hurler and footballer, a gentleman and an even greater friend and we are heartbroken.

"We would like to send our deepest condolences to his family."

The Gardaí, coastguard, members of the Civil Defence, and dozens of volunteers all took part in the search at Millford Bridge, about 3km outside Carlow town.

(The River Barrow at Milford Bridge. Picture: Google Street View)

This morning Mr Byrne's body was recovered from the water. It is expected to be taken to Waterford Regional Hospital where a post mortem examination will take place.

The 'neknomination' drinking craze has been condemned by Alcohol Action Ireland.

"While some may see it as a game, the consequences of drinking large volumes of alcohol in a short period of time can have very real consequences for people in terms of their health and well-being,” a spokesman said.

“Participating in this ‘game’ is clearly bad for your health and also reinforces the dangerous message that it is normal – and also fun – to get drunk, a message that is at the root of so much of our harmful drinking.”

Separately, searches are continuing in Carlow town for a woman in her late 40s, believed to have fallen into the river on Friday night.

KEYWORDS: Carlow, River Barrow


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