The family of a young Derry man found dead after a night out ended in tragedy are said to be devastated by what had happened.
Over the past 24 hours tributes have been pouring in for Conall Kerrigan (25), whose death was last night still being treated as “unexplained”.
Conall’s relatives and friends yesterday described him as a “true gentleman” who was the “epitome” of the good in the his native Claudy.
He was also heavily involved in the local Claudy John Mitchel’s GAA Club, and is pictured for one of the last times here with teammates on Friday night at the club’s Championship match with Greenlough.
Shocked GAA colleagues had mounted a search party on Sunday after Conall failed to return following a night out at the Metro Bar at Bank Place in the heart of Derry’s city centre on Saturday.
It is understood his body was found very close to where he was last seen, near the City Walls.
Claudy Parish Priest Fr David O’Kane said Conall’s parents John and Mary and his two brothers were understandably devastated and waiting for more news about what had happened.
Fr O’Kane, who visited the family yesterday morning, said: “They are very numb; devastated, shocked, questioning and wondering.
“They are good people, they are patient and dignified, but that doesn’t take away from the pain.”
He added: “The whole community is in shock, and due to Conall’s age and association with the GAA, there are a lot of young people who are in shock.
“This is a very tight-knit community and he was a well-liked young person; he was a very popular young fellow.”
A post-mortem examination is due to be conducted today (Tuesday).
By yesterday evening, detectives were understood to be still trying to piece together the circumstances surrounding Mr Kerrigan’s death and the subsequent discovery of his body, and it is thought the post-mortem exam may help provide some answers.
The former St Patrick’s & St Brigid’s College pupil’s body was discovered at Bank Place at 10.20pm on Sunday night and his death is currently being treated as “unexplained”.
His body was discovered very close to where he had been socialising in Derry’s Metro Bar on Saturday night. Conall had left the bar at closing time at around 2am on Sunday morning.
After Conall failed to return home, members of Claudy John Mitchel’s GAA club mounted a search for him and travelling to the city centre discovered his body close to where he was last seen alive .
Conall’s cousin Aaron Kerrigan, who had been with him in Derry’s city centre earlier on Saturday evening, was among those who paid tribute to him yesterday, describing his cousin as the “heart and soul of the party”, and someone who epitomised all that was good about Claudy.
Aaron also said Conall was “a true gentleman” who “wouldn’t have brought any harm to anyone”.
In a statement issued yesterday through John Mitchel’s Club Secretary Eugene O’Neill, they said: “It was with a very heavy heart that we leaned late last night of Conall’s passing over the weekend. Conall, like every other member of his extended family, was part and parcel of the very DNA of our club. He trained, he played, he volunteered, and, he socialised as a member of our Club right through from the earliest underage to our current senior panel. John Mitchel’s GAC will be a poorer place without his constant smile.”
The statement adds: “Conall was a huge character, full of craic and a good friend to his peers. Without exception, anyone who ever came into contact with him will have been struck by his fun loving nature and his zest for life.
“He was a young man who carried a smile into everything he did and he had so much to look forward to. His passing hurts us all and there are just no words that will make sense of this.
“Everybody in the club and in the wider Claudy community is struggling to come to terms with this tragedy. Our prayers, love and care go out to Conall, his immediate and wider families, and to all of his friends.
“Ar dheas Dé go raibh a anam. Codladh sámh a Chonall.”
Sinn Féin Councillor for the area Paul Fleming meanwhile said: “The entire community are in shock on hearing the terrible sad news this morning. I wish to extend my sympathy and condolences to his family and friends at this time.”
A section of the Walls and various entrances onto them and in to Bank Place was cordoned off for much of yesterday.
PSNI Detective Inspector Conor McStravick appealed for anyone who seen Conall after he left the Metro bar, or anyone who witnessed any form of altercation on the City Walls close to Millennium Forum during the early hours of Sunday morning to contact detectives by telephone on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.