It was confirmed yesterday that Finbar Cafferkey, a native of Achill Island in Co Mayo, was killed while battling Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.
Finbar was a military volunteer with previous experience fighting in Syria but he travelled to Ukraine to help local forces there.
He is the second Irishman to die in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began. His death follows that of Rory Mason, a 23-year-old from Co. Meath, who was killed in October.
Reports of Finbar’s death were confirmed by his father, Tom, at the family home yesterday afternoon.
His father said: “We are grieving…it’s a private matter. I don’t want to say anything further”.
In a statement issued last night, Finbar’s family said they are waiting on further information about what happened to their son but confirmed he was killed near Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.
The assault on Bakhmut has been the longest battle of the war, but Ukrainian forces have prevented Russia from taking full control so far.
Finbar’s family have asked for privacy at this devastating time.
The statement read: “The family of Finbar Cafferkey has learned that he has been killed near the city of Bakhmut in Eastern Ukraine.
“We are absolutely devastated”
Those who knew Finbar and his family have been paying tribute to him following the terrible news.
His close friend, Benjamin Nunn described the young man as a “true superhero”.
He said: “Finbar Cafferkey is a hero and friend of mine. He always followed through with what he believed.
“The world lost a true superhero this week. Think of him and follow his example in your own life”.
One local said: “We heard reports on Wednesday that Finbar had been killed, but we were hoping against hope that the information was untrue.
“Now that his death has been confirmed, we are absolutely devastated”.
Another islander said: “Finbar was a man of principle.
“I know that about eight years ago he worked on the border between Greece and Macedonia assisting migrants coming off dinghies.
This person wrote online: “If you told me 30 years ago, he’d be killed trying to help strangers thousands of miles away, I wouldn’t have been all that that surprised”.