Carpenter Dessie Byrne desperately tried to save his beloved sister’s life after she was swept out to sea by a deadly riptide current.
His teenage son Josh is understood to have spotted his aunt Muriel Eriksson frantically waving her arms, out some distance from the Kerry beach.
Dessie Byrne, 53, is understood to have told his son to stay put before he dashed into the water to try to save her.
Tragically, both of them died, and lifeguards were warning bathers this afternoon to avoid the deadly section of beach between the strands known as the Ladies Beach and the Men’s Beach at the popular north Kerry seaside resort of Ballybunion.
Some 700 holidaymakers were on the beach when the siblings died on Thursday evening at around 6pm.
They are believed to have been swept out to sea by a very strong riptide, which is a current so powerful it can suddenly pull a swimmer not only under the water but also many meters out to sea.
They are common on a number of Irish beaches, and Thursday’s tragedy has led to questions being raised about why there are no warning signs near the spot.
Veteran Kerry county councillor Robert Beasley said that signs will be going up in the next few days.
“It is obvious there now has to be some kind of warning sign erected,” he told the Irish Examiner.
I have asked for and received an assurance that the country council is going to do something.”
Josh is understood to have watched, helpless, as his father —who regularly went on holiday to Ballybunion with his sister, who lived in Sweden — got into difficulty before disappearing below the water.
Dessie Byrne’s unresponsive body was washed ashore shortly afterwards, near where his son had remained. Muriel’s body was recovered a short time afterwards.
Attempts were made by emergency services to resuscitate the two adults, but they were both declared dead at the shoreline.
Dessie’s wife Pauletta was informed of the tragedy at the couple’s home in the Co Roscommon village of Lecarrow, and she was brought by the gardaí to the seaside resort to be with Josh, who was taken to hospital in Tralee suffering from shock.