Father of three died after falling on rocks while retrieving football during family holiday in west Cork, inquest hears

David Latten (44), from Clonakilty, was on a weekend break with his wife and their three children on Cape Clear

David Latten died after falling on Cape Clear in July 2023. Photograph: Rip.ie

A father of three died after suffering traumatic head injuries when he fell on rocks when going to retrieve a football during a family holiday on Cape Clear in west Cork, an inquest has heard.

David Latten (44), from Clonakilty, was enjoying a weekend break with his wife Neasa O’Keeffe and their three children – Ruadhán (9), Odhran (7) and Finn (5) – at the Chleire Haven campsite on the island on the weekend of July 1st last.

Ms O’Keeffe told gardaí in a statement that her husband had been playing football with Finn on the campsite when the ball went over a fence and down some cliffs. He told his wife he was going to retrieve it as he passed a communal yurt where she was charging her phone at about 5pm.

She said she became worried when he failed to return. The couple had been due to go to the pizzeria near the North Harbour so she thought he might have gone straight there. When she arrived, there was no sign of him and no one had seen him, so she returned to the campsite.


When Mr Latten was not there, she contacted the owner of the campsite, Finbarr Hennessy, and he drove her back to the pizzeria in case she had missed her husband along the road. When Ms O’Keeffe went back to the campsite after finding no trace of him, she alerted the emergency services and gardaí. The Irish Coast Guard and Baltimore RNLI were notified.

RNLI volunteer John Kearney said he was on Cape Clear when he heard that Mr Latten was missing and he launched his rigid inflatable boat (RIB) at the North Harbour. In a statement, he said he made his way over to the South Harbour and began searching and at around 8.10pm. He found a man’s body face down in an inlet. He retrieved the body and brought Mr Latten back to the North Harbour, where he was pronounced dead.

West Cork coroner Frank O’Connell read from a report by pathologist Dr Abdel Sadek, which stated that Mr Latten had suffered a serious laceration to his left temple, a skull fracture and a laceration to his left side as well as the loss of a considerable amount of blood from his left kidney. Dr Sadek concluded that Mr Latten died as a result of a traumatic head injury complicated by haemorrhage from his kidney. Mr O’Connell returned a verdict of accidental death due to a fall.

The coroner extended his sympathies to Ms O’Keeffe and her family, describing Mr Latten’s death as “a very unlucky occurrence with very sad and tragic consequences”. Insp Róisín O’Dea extended condolences on behalf of An Garda Síochána.

Ms O’Keeffe’s father, former Cork South-West Fine Gael TD Jim O’Keeffe, thanked Mr O’Connell for his kindness. He said the family wanted to express their gratitude to gardaí, the Coast Guard and RNLI volunteers and all those on the island who assisted in the search for Mr Latten.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times