A 23-year-old Irish student and Yes Equality campaigner died in San Francisco on Wednesday. Police are investigating the death of Dean MacCearaín, from Co Monaghan, who was in California for his brother’s wedding.
The cause of his death is unknown, but police do not suspect foul play at this time, the Irish Independent reports.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed it is providing consular assistance to his family.
MacCearaín was a student at Maynooth University. Catherine Black, of the university’s chaplaincy service, said she was “so sad to hear this terrible news” and urged students to contact the chaplaincy for support.
The students’ union at Maynooth also paid tribute to MacCearaín, the Irish Times reports.
“MSU cannot find the words to express our regret at the loss of one of our stellar former students, Dean MacCearaín,” said the statement.
“Dean was an individual of incredible talent, creativity, quick-wit and probably most of all . . . sass. He was a legend.”
“Former president of our Pride Society, a beloved resident drag queen, a friend to so many, and not least of all a total character to everyone he met in his whirl-wind adventures and stories along the way.
“Dean was also a key student campaigner in the recent marriage equality referendum, and on so many student and community issues before that. He wanted to make the world around him a better place.
“Dean passed away while visiting the states with his family, and further details will be known soon, which once we have them, we will share.
“On behalf of all our students, we want to convey our deepest and heartfelt sympathies to his family home and abroad, his many friends, and his former classmates here in Maynooth.”
Drag Queen Panti Bliss, who said MacCearaín had featured in a scene in her recent film, paid tribute to the young man on her Facebook page:
"The young man in this picture is Dean MacCearain. I didn't know Dean very well, but he features prominently in a lovely scene in 'The Queen Of Ireland', while celebrating the result of the Marriage Equality referendum.
"One of the film's producers had to track him down afterwards and ask his permission to use the clip in the film, and he was excited and proud to be in it.
"Today we learned the shocking news that Dean passed away this week while in San Francisco with his family. We didn't know Dean very well, but we didn't need to know him very well to know he was a smart, quick-witted, funny, charming young man.
"The thoughts and deepest condolences of everyone involved in the film are with his family, his many friends, and his former classmates at Manooth University where he was a former president of the Pride Society and a much loved drag star. Which came as no surprise to us. We could tell immediately he was a star."
MacCearaín had been acquainted with Eoghan Culligan, one of the students who died in the Berkeley balcony collapse in June. MacCearaín had paid a tribute to Culligan on his Facebook page after the tragedy, saying he was “one of the first students I ever had in my house as a cuintoir” with Colaiste Sheosaimh Oifigiul.
“Heartbreaking stuff,” he added.