Mourners told how Cork stabbing victim was hero who helped save six people from drowning when he was just 13



A young man who died eleven days after suffering stab injuries in a Christmas incident in Cork was hailed as a devoted son who bravely helped save the lives of six people during a water rescue in Kerry, when he was just 13 years old.

att O’Neill (29) was described by his father, Pat, as “the body and soul” of his family who have been left absolutely heartbroken by his death.

Pat O’Neill fought back tears as he recalled the happiness his son had brought to their entire family.

“His name was in my phone as ‘Body & Soul’ – that’s what came up every time he rang me. And that is what he was – our body and soul,” he said.

“During the week, one of Matt’s lovely friends sent us a message and it really said it (all) about Matt. She said Matt was a real sweetheart, he was kind and caring. He was gentle.

“Matt was born to Eileen and I in Brisbane (Australia) in 1993…the three of us, almost from the minute he was born, we had a life of so many adventures.

“Swimming, surfing, kayaking, camping – (being) in the water was Matt’s favourite place.

“He ended up saving someone’s life. One afternoon we were surfing in Derrynane in Kerry and six people were in serious trouble in the water.

“Together, Eileen, myself and Matt, we pulled the six of them out. But there was one who was in a particularly bad way and Matt took specific action going to him in the middle of the panic. Matt was 13 years old.”

Fr James McSweeney told mourners at Mr O’Neill’s Requiem Mass at the Church of the Real Presence in Curraheen that the young man’s loss had deeply impacted the community.

“I don’t need to tell you our gathering here today is dreadfully sad – we have no words today,” he said.

“To Pat and Eileen, we offer you our deepest and sincerest sympathies. Even though our gathering here today is very sad, we take comfort from the many happy memories that his family have of Matt.”

Mr O’Neill’s removal took place yesterday evening from O’Connor Brothers funeral home in Wilton to the Church of the Real Presence in Curraheen.

The mourners were led by Mr O’Neill’s parents, Pat and Eileen, his grandmother, Josephine, and his extended family.

His family had requested that mourners not bring flowers but rather make a donation to Cork University Hospital (CUH).

Mr O’Neill was on a life support machine at CUH for eleven days after undergoing emergency surgery following an incident in Carrigaline shortly before 6pm on December 28.

He was pronounced dead at CUH early on January 8 after failing to regain consciousness following surgery.

Mr O’Neill was found by gardaí and paramedics lying badly injured on a roadway in the Glenwood estate in Carrigaline.

Locals had raised the alarm on the afternoon of December 28 after spotting a young man staggering onto the roadway where he immediately collapsed.

Mr O’Neill had suffered a serious stab injury to his head.

Detectives fear that he may have been struck in the head and neck with a broken bottle.

He had suffered a profound loss of blood and was treated at the scene by paramedics before he was rushed to CUH to undergo emergency surgery.

Mr O’Neill was in a critical condition for eleven days until he passed away.

Two teens have since appeared before Cork District Court in relation to the alleged incident on December 28.

Both have been charged with assault causing harm to Mr O’Neill.

Gardaí have again appealed for public assistance for their ongoing investigation.

Anyone who was in the vicinity of Glenwood Estate in Carrigaline between 5pm and 5.45pm on Wednesday, December 28 last, particularly any road users who may have camera footage (including dash cam) of the incident, is asked to contact Togher Garda Station on (021) 494 7120, the Garda Confidential Line on (1800) 666111 or any garda station.

Gardaí have also conducted door-to-door inquiries in the Glenwood area as well as carrying out a detailed forensic examination of the scene.



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