Tributes to teen pianist and documentary star Seán Shannon following death in Slovenia

Pianist Sean Shannon, who was from Ennis in Co Clare. Picture: RTÉ
Pianist Sean Shannon, who was from Ennis in Co Clare. Picture: RTÉ

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to a "hugely talented" teenage pianist and star of an RTÉ documentary whose body was recovered from a lake in Slovenia.

Seán Shannon, who was 18 and from Co Clare, was reported missing in the Bled area last Friday.

The musician had been holidaying alone in the area, and the alarm was raised when his wallet, phone and passport were found.

Following a weekend search operation, his body was found in the waters of Lake Bled, a popular tourist spot in the north of the country.

Slovenian police are continuing to investigate the circumstances of the death, while a spokesperson for the Republic's Department of Foreign Affairs has said it is providing consular assistance.

Mr Shannon, who was a self-taught pianist, was a student at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, and had recently appeared in an RTÉ documentary titled Face the Music, which was screened in June.

The three-part series followed students at the Royal Academy, with Mr Shannon describing how he learned to play as a child with a toy piano before later honing his skills with a  €20 keyboard.

Ahead of the series, he called for publically funded music lessons to be offered to children to nurture future talent.

Paying tribute to the teen, Mr Higgins recalled watching a previous performance by him in Ennis at an event to celebrate the work of the ClareCare community organisation.

"While still only 18, Seán had already exhibited a fantastic musical ability, having commenced his learning of the piano as a self-taught pianist," he said.

"Indeed, I remember meeting Seán in September 2018 when he performed at an event which I attended at Glór Theatre to mark the 50th anniversary of ClareCare. At the time, Seán was a second year student in Ennis Community College and was already distinguishing himself with his abilities, which he was sharing with a public that recognised the unique and extraordinary talent that he possessed.

Mr Higgins added: "I extend my deepest sympathies to Seán’s parents, Cecilia and Frank, to his siblings, and to all his friends and fellow performers."

The Royal Irish Academy of Music said in a statement that Mr Sahnnon was a "kind, talented and dedicated student who quickly became a much-loved and integral part of RIAM student life".