Aideen Kennedy urged followers to look out for her kids hours before death
Popular newscaster Aideen Kennedy has died shortly after announcing on social media she had a terminal illness and asking people to “keep an eye out” for her children.
A familiar face on UTV news bulletins over the years, the 43-year-old revealed she was receiving palliative care in a Twitter post on Friday morning and died later that night.
In her final social media post, the well-liked journalist, who had been admitted to hospital recently, made a heart-rending plea to her followers to look out for her young children after her death. She said: “Life has not gone well and I am as sick as I was as when I went in to hospital. [I’m] essentially going home to die but getting palliative care. The kids know. If you come across them, will you keep an eye out for them? They are the kindest, sweetest, most thoughtful kiddies.”
Her former employer UTV issued a statement describing her as a gifted journalist and offering sympathy to her family.
A spokeswoman said: “The UTV family is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former colleague and friend Aideen Kennedy. A truly gifted reporter, she spent many years at UTV bringing viewers stories from all over Northern Ireland.”
DUP MLA Emma Little-Pengelly said she was “absolutely devastated” over the death of her beautiful, funny, kind friend”. She added: “I will miss her terribly. We met 22 years ago when we shared a room for the summer in DC and became firm friends. Goodbye beautiful girl.”
Alliance Councillor Sian Mulholland tweeted: “My heart absolutely breaks for Aideen’s parents who have now had to say goodbye to their four children. Life can be so exceptionally cruel.”
SDLP councillor Seamas de Faoite said he was “heartbroken” over the news: “Mam babysat Aideen, Dara and Fiona for years. Aideen was such a bright light who had been through so much.”
Following Aideen’s announcement about her prognosis on social media, there was an outpouring of love and sympathy from her friends, followers and former colleagues.
BBC weatherman Barra Best said: “So sorry to read this. Life really can deal some bitter blows. And of course we’ll keep an eye out for them [Aideen’s children]. I’ll try to make sure they get some decent weather.”
Aideen was one of four siblings and the fourth to die young. She is survived by her two children Jacob and Eva, as well as her parents Noel and Maura.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph in 2019, she told of the tragedies which had befallen her brothers and sister. She lost her older sister Fiona to cancer in 2016, less than a year after her beloved younger brother Dara had died from a brain tumour.
Aideen said: “I grew up in Belfast. It was me, my parents — Dad was an engineer and Mum was a teacher — my sister Fiona and my brother Dara.
“Both Fiona and Dara have passed away in recent years. Fiona was 44 and Dara was just 35. They were my best friends.
“I had another brother, Rory, who was killed in a road accident when he was one. We talked about him all the time.
“Seamus Heaney’s Mid-Term Break reminds me of Rory. The line ‘I saw him, for the first time in six weeks. Paler now, wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple’ always stuck with me.
“My mum said Rory looked like an angel and you wouldn’t have known anything had happened, apart from the bruise.
“I remember a teacher reading that poem out. It immediately made me think of him.
“My mum Maura and dad Noel are the strongest and loveliest people I know. With my mum being a teacher and my dad originally from Argentina, the nature of our family has always had the kids at the forefront.
“We’re very people-orientated as a family. We were a very close family and we did a lot together.”
In the same interview, Aideen paid tribute to her parents, who survive all their children.
She said: “They have been through so much, having lost three of their children, but they refuse to let life overtake them. They are funny, loving and supportive and enjoy everything life has to offer. They’re champion bridge players. While I don’t massively approve of them playing bridge all around the world because my nerves are shot when they are gallivanting, I admire their attitude to life.”