The funerals of two boys from south Dublin who died within a day of each other while on a post-Leaving Cert holiday in Greece are to take place early next week.
Andrew O’Donnell and Max Wall, both aged 18 and former students of St Michael’s College, Ballsbridge, died in separate incidents on the island of Ios last weekend.
Their bodies were expected to be repatriated to Ireland late on Thursday or early on Friday following the issuing of death certificates.
Mr O’Donnell is believed to have fallen on a rocky hill on the outskirts of the island’s main town of Hora after he became separated from a friend while walking home after a night socialising.
Only hours after his body was discovered on Sunday morning, his classmate Mr Wall collapsed near the island’s port and was later pronounced dead.
Initial postmortems conducted by Greek authorities indicated that Mr O’Donnell died from head injures related to the fall, and that Mr Wall’s death was linked to a heart problem.
Both funerals are to take place in Donnybrook, with Mr Wall to be buried following a Mass on Monday. Mr O’Donnell’s funeral is to follow on Wednesday.
‘Larger than life’
In a tribute from his family posted along with the funeral details, Mr Wall was described as “a larger than life personality” who brought “great joy” to the lives of his family and friends.
“During his short time, he faced numerous challenges that he bore with great courage and bravery and always remained his most positive sunny fun filled self,” it said.
In their tribute, Mr O’Donnell’s family said the young man had brought “immense joy” to the lives of all who knew him.
“He possessed a vibrant spirit, a kind heart, and a sense of humour that brightened the darkest of days,” the family said.
They added that he was known for his “charming demeanour”, a passion for sport and for being “unfailingly loyal to his friends and relatives, in Ireland and England”.
It has emerged that a Greek prosecutor has ordered a preliminary investigation to establish whether adulterated alcohol could have contributed to the deaths of the two young Irish men on Ios. Samples from alcoholic drinks sold in all bars and clubs on the island were taken and sent to a laboratory on the island of Syros for analysis.
However, Ekaterini Lyra, the district prosecutor on the nearly island of Naxos, stressed that the investigation was standard procedure. She said there was no evidence from the postmortems, which were conducted on Wednesday in Athens, that adulterated alcohol contributed to the deaths of the two men.
The prosecutor noted, however, that results of toxicological samples taken during the autopsy was pending.
The adulteration of alcohol, where nightclubs add lower-quality product or industrial spirit to drinks, is not an unknown phenomenon in Greece. The mixing of so-called “vomves” (bombs) allows some unscrupulous bar owners to make beverages go further and avoid taxes.
In February, for example, 18 Greek students were hospitalised in Patras after drinking adulterated alcohol during celebrations in the port city.
Dionysios Lagios (41), who works in a restaurant near Ios port, said he felt alcohol being sold in some bars on the island was “not perfect”. He said it was a “big problem” that had to be corrected.
“In the port [it] is different – in the village it is more party, and here it is more quiet,” he said, adding that groups of young people holidaying on the island needed to be cautious when out socialising.
“I think that they think that because it’s a party island they can drink a lot, but they don’t know that not all the drinks are perfect,” he told The Irish Times. “The drinks are cheap – sometimes they think okay because you are used to beer and suddenly you go to pure alcohol – that’s a big problem, it’s not the same thing.”
Themis Aganis (60), who was working in Foiniki cocktail bar, said he did not think there was an issue with alcohol being sold by bars on Ios.
Staff in other bars in the centre of Hora did not want to comment on the matter. A woman working behind the bar in one premises said they had nothing to say, before adding: “We don’t want any reporters in here”.