There is nobody in this city or county who is not horrified by the senseless killing of young Kieran Cunningham just 100 yards from this office in the early hours of yesterday morning. Shocked by the needless rubbing out of the life of a man who by all accounts was a decent sort. His colleagues in Hughes Supermarket in Claregalway where he had worked on the deli counter for the past 18 months were shocked to the core at the news of his death and were sincere in their praise of him.
His family and friends are probably in a state of disbelief that a night out at this brilliant time for Galway city promised nothing more than a good time, maybe a sore head, but loads of memories. That’s all he and thousands of others like him expect as they head out in this city every week.
Coming just a month after we were treated to the sickening details of the killing of Manuela Riedo, and less than a week after we hear that her killer has pleaded guilty to an horrific rape of another visiting student, we have to ask are we kidding ourselves by saying that our city is a safe place to frequent, but the truth is, it is.
Down town yesterday, I heard several people explaining to visitors that this sort of crime is not commonplace in our city, and they are telling the truth. Galway is a safe city and these incidents, when they happen, are shocking because of that.
The tragedy of it is all the more disappointing because it came at a time when Galway was feeling really good about itself, having shown the world what we are capable of, having shown the organisers of the Volvo Ocean Race stopover that they were right to choose us, and should do so again, and having shown the other stopover ports what a stopover really means.
This fantastic bubble of happiness has hung over the city for the past two weeks and there will be genuine regret and post-stopover depression when the event leaves Galway next weekend, because the fear is that we may never see the likes of it ever again.
Now as the city prepares for the last days of the Volvo Ocean Race stopover, thousands of visitors had to endure passing a crime scene all day yesterday, the Garda tapes, the canvas screens a reminder of, and a shield from the brutality that took place in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Of course, this disappointment is nothing compared to the sorrow being experienced by Kieran Cunningham’s family as they try to come to terms with the loss of a beloved son, friend, and brother, a man who had his best years ahead of him.
At a time when the city was enjoying its finest hour, at a time when security was beefed up to its utmost level, at a time when we felt that we had staged this event with great aplomb, we have been shocked to the core by a senseless act of violence. There is no doubt that the perpetrators will be caught and they, just like Gerard Barry will have to accept that apart from carrying out these heartless crimes, they have also brought great shame to us all. Our deepest sympathies go out today to the Cunningham family and to all of Kieran’s friends. What a waste of a young life, what a waste. Let us all help the Gardai in whatever way we can to catch the person who did this.