The support shown by the people of Swinford to the family of Gary Price, the 23 year old who tragically lost his life in South East Asia this week, has been ‘unbelievable’.
Cllr Joe Mellett and three of Gary’s friends have set-up a fundraising support group to allow people to express solidarity and sympathy with the Price family, and to help ensure that Gary’s remains are brought home as soon as possible.
The support group also intends to help Gary’s friends who were with him in Laos when he drowned, Kieran Lynskey from Swinford and Shane Hynes from Castlebar, in whatever way they can. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have been used to promote the group, and a Gary Price page has been set up on fundraiser site iDonate.
It began initially last weekend as an informal collection around the Swinford area to enable some of Gary’s friends to travel to Laos to assist with the search for Gary’s body. However, once his body was located on the Sunday morning, the need for assistance in that form was removed.
“But a lot of people of every age were coming up to me to ask ‘what can we do to help and show support’ so, with the consent of the Price family, we set up a support group to help to bring Gary’s remains home and also to support the two lads who were with him,” explained Joe Mellett.
“It is not a big fundraiser for the family or anything of the sort. It is just one means of people expressing their solidarity. If people donate €1, it will be a lovely gesture. Whatever is left over after we assist with costs will go to charity … The family and the people of Swinford will take heart, I’m sure, from the fact that good will come out of this,” added Cllr Mellett.
Cllr Mellett admitted that the response so far has been ‘unbelievable’.
“It would really reassure you about the young people of this country because they have been incredible in the last few days, friends of Gary doing everything they can. The response has been unbelievable from everyone in the town, young and old … and from people from further afield who knew Gary. We’ve uncovered a bond in the town that a lot of people didn’t realise was there. It will be of great comfort, I hope, for the family to see how many people are thinking about them at this tragic time,” said Cllr Mellett.
He said that he was ‘hopeful’ that Gary Price’s remains would be back in his native Swinford by this weekend.
Gary was travelling through South East Asia with two of his best friends, Shane Hynes and Kieran Lynskey, when he reportedly was swept away when part of a group crossing the Nam Song River near the town of Vang Vieng. He was on holidays in South East Asia after spending close to a year in Australia. He had lived and worked in Melbourne for a large part of that stay. He was due home this weekend, in time for his 24th birthday this Tuesday, and was due to join friends in Boston this summer. An accomplished soccer and Gaelic football player, Gary Price was one of the main players in the Castlebar Celtic team that won the FAI Youth (U-18) Cup in 2007. He also played soccer with Swinford and Mervue United and Gaelic football with Swinford.