THE family of a Carlow GAA player whose body was recovered from the river Barrow in Ireland yesterday morning have made a public appeal urging people to stop taking part in the ‘neknomination’ drinking game.
Jonny Byrne, 19, jumped into the river near Milford Bridge on Saturday night.
His brother Pat tried to save him, but he watched as his brother drowned in front of him.
Following his death, Pat posted a message on his Facebook page, urging people to stop the challenge.
He said: “This neck nomination s**t has to stop right now. My young 19-year-old brother Jonny Byrne from Carlow died tonight in the middle of his nomination… He thought he had to try and beat the competition and after he necked his pint he jumped into the river…”
The drinking trend – known as ‘Neknomination’ – involves the ‘neknominator’ who, after posting a video of themselves online downing a pint or other form of alcohol , then ‘neknominates’ one or two of his friends to follow suit.
The rules dictate that they now have 24 hours to upload their video and nominate their choices, carrying on the trend.
Byrne is one of two deaths over the weekend linked to drinking games.
Gardaí in Dublin are investigating the death of 22-year-old Dubliner Ross Cummins, whose body was found in a house on Macken Street in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Initial reports suggested that neknomination was involved in the death, but no authorities have corroborated the report.
Jonny Byrne’s father, Joe Byrne, appealed to young people to think about what they are doing.
He said: “It has cost my son his life and our lives will never be the same again. I hope this message is heeded. For us life is virtually over.
His brother Pat also added: “Will it take the loss of my brother’s life for people to cop on to themselves and realise how stupid this game is…
He said he wanted people to know that he would continue his campaign against the game, adding, “I am going to keep campaigning to have this neknomination taken off Facebook”.
Jonny Byrne was involved in GAA and played for Carlow and Naomh Bríd Hurling Club.
Yesterday, Ireland’s Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald condemned the online craze stating that it was dangerous and potentially harmful to young people, adding “it is evidence of our society’s broader need to address our binge drinking culture”.
A book of condolences for Jonny Byrne will open this morning at Carlow IT.