'utter devastation' | 

Talented GAA player who died after fall in Greece named as Darren Whelan (23)

Darren is understood to have been on holiday with friends when the tragedy occurred on Sunday morning
Darren Whelan

Darren Whelan

Conor Feehan and David Raleigh

A young man from Limerick has died after a fall while on holidays on the Greek island of Ios.

He has been named locally as Darren Whelan (23), from the village of Kildimo west of Limerick city.

The talented GAA player is understood to have been on holiday with friends when the tragedy occurred on Sunday morning.

It is believed Mr Whelan, who played with the senior football and hurling teams at Kildimo Pallaskenry club, fell to his death, possibly from a balcony.

Mr Whelan went to school in Colaiste Mhuire in Askeaton.

Local Independent Councillor and family friend Emmett O’Brien said he knew him personally and was shocked to hear the news of his death yesterday.

“Darren was a very popular lad and there is utter devastation in Kildimo and further afield at the news of his death,” he said.

“It has sent a shock wave through the area. I heard he had been on holidays with a group when the incident happened. He was hugely loved and well known, especially in hurling circles in the local Kildimo Pallaskenry club.”

Cllr O’Brien added that the young man was "the life and soul of the hurling team and the social fabric of the community”.

“I often socialised with him, he was a lovely gentleman, very friendly, very intelligent, and he had a huge career in front of him.

“We are all shocked with numbness at his passing, he was a great kid,” Cllr O’Brien said.

He said his thoughts and sympathies are with Mr Whelan’s parents and two brothers.

A Greek police source said local police were investigating the incident but were understood to be treating Mr Whelan’s death as “an accident”.

Mr Whelan had studied Civil Engineering at Limerick Institute of Technology and had travelled to the Greek island with friends to celebrate graduating from college.

A college friend said Mr Whelan and a small group of friends had “gone away on a holiday to celebrate finishing college, it is totally unexpected, we’re all shocked”.

“He was full of craic, he’d have you in stitches laughing, there was never any malice about him, he was a real comedian.

“He has a younger brother who is an electrician and an older brother who is a quantity surveyor, they were all involved in construction, a lot of his mates are in the construction industry, and he was big into hurling as well.”

Sean Cuddihy, secretary of Kildimo/ Pallaskenry GAA club, said everyone at the club was devastated after hearing about Mr Whelan’s sudden passing.

“Our focus has been on getting his teammates together and supporting them. He was very versatile, he could play anywhere, and he did,” Mr Cuddihy said.

“We are playing Senior hurling this year for the first time in our history and (Darren) played from half-back/midfield, to half-forward this year.

“We got all the players together and got a person who works in the mental health area to speak to them and outline basically how to look after themselves and each other over the next while, because it is going to take time for the body to come back and for the funeral.

“Absolutely, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and the club will support the family in whatever way possible,” Mr Cuddihy added.

In a further tragic twist, Mr Whelan had been a close school friend of 19-year old Jack Walsh, who fell to his death from a balcony, at a hotel in Mallorca, Spain, in June 2018.

Mr Walsh, a triplet, passed away at Son Espases University Hospital after sustaining critical head injuries in a 12m fall.

Both men had served together on the playing pitches at Coláiste Mhuire Askeaton.

A spokesman for the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust confirmed it has been contacted to offer assistance to the Whelan family in helping to organise to repatriate Mr Whelan’s remains home for his funeral.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said: “The Department of Foreign Affairs is aware of the case and is providing consular assistance.”

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