TRIBUTES have been paid to a Limerick man who was killed in an avalanche in the Swiss Alps over Christmas.
Michael Clifford (27), who was originally from Ballyagran, was living in the Zurich area where he had been working for more than six years with the world-renowned Partners Group.
Mr Clifford, who studied at University College Cork, died when an avalanche struck the area of Realp in central Switzerland, where he is thought to have been skiing off-piste.
He was a first cousin of Limerick TD Niall Collins.
“It is very shocking news and I offer my sympathies to Michael’s parents Patricia and David and all the family,” said Deputy Collins whose mother Marion is a sister of Patricia.
David and Patricia ran the Post Office in Ballyagran for many years.
David was also a teacher at the Salesian College in Pallaskenry while Patricia taught at Scoil Carmel in the city. The couple are now retired and reside in Cork.
Mr Clifford’s aunt, Finola Sharkey, is a teacher at Colaiste Chiarain in Croom.
Mr Clifford was reported missing by his girlfriend when he failed to return to the hotel where they had been staying on St Stephen’s Day.
Treacherous conditions prevented rescuers from immediately attending the scene but Mr Clifford’s body was recovered the following day.
The Alpine Rescue Switzerland confirmed Mr Clifford was swept along more than 500 metres by the avalanche.
A police spokesman said Mr Clifford was alone at the time of the accident. It was added that the ski route he was on was one taken only by experienced skiers and that weather conditions deteriorated rapidly in the hours leading up to the avalanche.
A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said it was continuing to provide consular assistance to Mr Clifford’s family.
Mr Clifford is survived by his parents David and Patricia, brothers William, Patrick and David, and sister Eleanor.