Tributes flow in for student Cameron

January 25th, 2020 10:00 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

"Your support has given us strength to keep going or in the words of our darling Cameron 'keep driving it on'," said his uncle Aidan Donnelly. (Photo: Denis Boyle)

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‘INTELLIGENT, courteous and respectful to all,’ – that is just one of many glowing and fitting tributes being paid to Cameron Blair (20) who died tragically in a stabbing at a house party last week.  

Gardaí were called to a house on Bandon Road in Cork city last Thursday night at approximately 9.20pm after receiving a report that a man had received serious injuries.

Several youths had gatecrashed a party at the house that Cameron and his friends were attending. 

They were asked to leave the house, but it is believed that several came back to gain entry and Cameron was stabbed in the neck while attempting to act as peacemaker, and the assailant fled the scene.

Cameron collapsed on the street, and emergency services were called. He died later at CUH. The house and the general area were preserved for several days in order to complete a technical examination.

While the investigations are ongoing, the people of Bandon and Pedlar’s Cross who knew and loved Cameron have been remembering him as they prepare to bury their friend, teammate and colleague this weekend.

Ian Coombes, principal of Bandon Grammar School, where Cameron attended for the first four years of secondary, told The Southern Star his death is a tremendous tragedy. ‘The whole community are united in sending their deepest condolences to the Blair family and staff, pupils and management have all been very much in contact with the family and worked with them over the last several days as they cope so heroically with what happened to their dear son,’ said Ian.

‘Every branch of the community, from sports clubs in Bandon to here and in Hamilton High School have been affected by his death.’

Cameron’s brother, Alan, currently attends Bandon Grammar and Ian said that Alan’s friends are very affected by Cameron’s death.

Senior students and staff, led by the school’s chaplain, Revd Anne Skuse, conducted a service of remembrance at the school last Friday in memory of Cameron, who had died the night before.

Across the river, Eugene O’Brien, principal of Hamilton High School said that Cameron ‘seamlessly settled into  school life in the Hammies’ when he joined there in 2016.

‘He was intelligent, courteous and respectful to all and was very well regarded by both his peers and teaching staff. He did a great Leaving Certificate in 2018 and had a bright future ahead of him,’ said Eugene.

‘His loss is deeply felt by the entire Hamilton High School community and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.’

Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, Dr Paul Colton – who confirmed Cameron at St Peter’s Church in Bandon in 2013 ¬– also paid tribute to the young man.

‘He was well known in his local community, including as a rugby player and athlete. My heart goes out to the Blair family, especially Cameron’s parents Noel and Cathy, and his brother Alan, as well as to Cameron’s wide circle of friends and peers, and indeed everyone who has been traumatised by what happened on Bandon Road,’ said Bishop Colton.

‘I know everyone in Cork and further afield is terribly shocked by Cameron’s death. On behalf of everyone living in this part of Cork, and on behalf of us all in the Church of Ireland community in Cork, Cloyne and Ross I send them our sincerest condolences.’

A keen sportsman, several sports clubs in Bandon also paid tribute to Cameron, who was in his second year in CIT studying chemical engineering.

In a statement signed on their Facebook page by President Dan Murphy, Bandon Rugby Club said the death ‘will be felt far and wide but will be felt really deeper within our club where Cameron was a very popular member.’  

‘Cameron’s boyish smile and joy of life left a real indelible mark on anyone he met or any team he played on. He played as he spoke, full of confidence and was a delight to see running at full tilt with a rugby ball.

‘Our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies are with the Blair and Donnelly families and Cameron’s close friends at this extremely difficult time.’

Incidentally, Cameron had been due to play in a league match at the club the following night.

Meanwhile, Bandon Athletic Club also paid tribute to Cameron on Facebook and said he was a member of the club for a number of years competing at local and national level winning medals at West Cork, county, Munster and National level.

‘In 2017 he helped the men’s team to a second place finish at the National League promoting them to Premier,’ the club posted on the page.

‘Cameron leaves behind his devoted parents Noel and Cathy and his brother Alan, a wide circle of friends and family. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.’

CIT president Dr Barry O’Connor said that the entire CIT community is in shock at the untimely death of one of its  students.

A book of condolences has been opened at Eileen’s Beauty Salon in Kinsale in memory of Cameron, as his mum Cathy worked there for many years.

Meanwhile, the investigation into Cameron’s death is ongoing and while it is understood gardaí have spoken to people of interest and may have identified suspects, no arrests have yet been made. 

His post mortem took place last Friday but the results were not released for operational reasons.

Gardaí have been gathering hundreds of hours of CCTV footage from the local area, as well as examining mobile phone footage and photographs that were handed into them after they made a public appeal for footage from the both the party and from the vicinity of Bandon Road. Gardaí also searched a green area near Connaught Avenue.

They are still appealing for anyone who has any information to contact them at Togher Garda Station where an incident room has been set up.

‘Anyone who was in the Bandon Road area between 8pm and 10pm on January 16th who witnessed anything or anyone with dashcam or mobile phone footage is asked to contact Togher Garda Station on 021- 494 7120, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800-666-111 or any garda station,’ said a garda spokesperson.

Cameron’s funeral will take place on Sunday at 2pm at St Peter’s Church in Bandon followed by burial at Kilbeg Cemetery in Bandon.

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