‘The whole island is in deep shock’: Investigations begin as two Dublin Leaving Cert students die in Greece

Former St Michael’s College students Max Wall and Andrew O’Donnell were on post-Leaving Cert holiday on Ios

Police in Greece have opened separate investigations into the deaths of two Dublin classmates during a post Leaving Cert trip to the island of Ios.

St Michael’s College in Ballsbridge on Sunday described the deaths over the weekend of pupils Andrew O’Donnell and Max Wall, both aged 18, as “one of the darkest [days] we have ever experienced”.

Greek police on Sunday night confirmed they were investigating the deaths, which occurred in separate incidents on the Cycladic island. The students were with a larger group from the Ballsbridge secondary school celebrating completion of their exams.

A spokesman of the Southern Aegean regional police directorate said Andrew O’Donnell’s body was found by police at around 10.30am local time on Sunday on rocks in a field outside the island’s main town of Hora. His body showed signs of having fallen but it was unclear whether the fall had been from a height.


Andrew had been reported missing the night before at 9pm earlier by a friend, who was with him until 1.30am early Saturday morning in Hora, where they had been socialising. While making their way back to their accommodation on foot, the two became separated.

The spokesman said Max Wall was found unconscious by a member of the public near the island’s port at around 2pm. The emergency services were informed and he was transferred to hospital by ambulance, where he was pronounced dead.

In a message to parents on Sunday, Lorna Heslin, principal of the St Michael’s College junior school, said it was “with profound sadness and a great sense of loss” that she was writing to them about the deaths of the two pupils.

She described Andrew, who joined the private school at senior level, as “valued member of the sixth year class group” and extended “deepest sympathy to his sorrowing parents and family as the come to terms with the loss of their darling Andrew”.

Max, who been in the junior school before progressing to the senior school, had a “sunny, friendly disposition” and “it was always a pleasure to meet him on the corridors”, she said. She extended “deepest sympathy” to his parents and older brother Charlie, who also attended St Michael’s.

“In the school’s history there have been difficult days but this is one of the darkest we have ever experienced. The deaths of two young men as they get ready to embark on the next stage of life is so difficult to accept,” she said.

“The sense of community which is the hallmark of St Michael’s will be needed to support the O’Donnell and Wall families and also the other members of the Leaving Cert class as they come to terms with the deaths of Andrew and Max.”

Greek police said the young men’s bodies would be transferred to Piraeus, near Athens, to undergo postmortems.

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said it was aware of the cases and providing consular assistance.

Kate O’Callaghan Zakheou, originally from Co Cork, owns the Sweet Irish Dream club on Ios with her husband Dimitris. “It’s just devastating. Everyone is absolutely devastated,” she said on Sunday. “We are not opening tonight as a mark of respect.”

Another bar-owner, also Irish but who did not want to be named, said he had been comforting friends of the two boys.

“There are about a thousand Irish young people on the island at the moment. I have been helping them contact their families, the embassy. Everyone, the whole island, is in deep shock.”

This article was updated at 10.30am on July 3rd to clarify the timeline.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times

Damian Mac Con Uladh

Damian Mac Con Uladh

Damian Mac Con Uladh is a contributor to The Irish Times based in Athens