Saoirse Kennedy Hill, 22-year-old granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy, found dead at Kennedy compound

AP logo
Friday, August 2, 2019
Saoirse Kennedy Hill dies at 22
Robert F. Kennedy's granddaughter, Saoirse Kennedy Hill, has died at 22 from a possible overdose. ABC News has the latest.

HYANNIS PORT, Mass. -- Robert F. Kennedy's granddaughter, Saoirse Kennedy Hill, has died, the family announced Thursday night.

The Kennedy family's statement followed reports of a death at the storied Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. ABC News sources said authorities are calling it a possible overdose.

The statement was issued by Brian Wright O'Connor, a spokesman for Saoirse Hill's uncle, former congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II. The family statement did not include a cause of death.

Hill was the daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy's fifth child, Courtney, and Paul Michael Hill, who was one of four falsely convicted in the 1974 Irish Republican Army bombings of two pubs.

"She lit up our lives with her love, her peals of laughter and her generous spirit," the statement said, adding that she was passionate about human rights and women's empowerment and worked with indigenous communities to build schools in Mexico.

She attended Boston College, where she was a member of the class of 2020, the university confirmed to The Boston Globe. Hill was a member of the Boston Democrats at her school, ABC News reports.

Boston College said Friday in a statement: "Saoirse Kennedy Hill was a gifted student in the Class of 2020 at Boston College, where she studied Communication in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences...Faculty who taught Saoirse describe her as 'thoughtful and compassionate, and possessing a deep empathy for others.' We extend our deepest condolences to her family in the wake of this tragic loss."

Saoirse was open about her struggles with depression. In 2016, she penned a letter in her high school newspaper explaining why she had taken time off and how difficult it was to return.

She wrote that she was speaking out about her mental health struggles because she believed that more open communication about it helps everyone.

"Many people are suffering, but because many people feel uncomfortable talking about it, no one is aware of the sufferers. This leaves people feeling even more alone," she wrote. "Since I spoke about this issue at school meeting, I have had countless people approach me, telling me that they, too, are struggling and would love to be more open about it."

The Cape & Islands district attorney's office said Barnstable police responded to a home "for a reported unattended death" Thursday afternoon, according to a statement cited by news outlets. Barnstable police and Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office are investigating.

The Kennedy Compound has been in the family for decades, according to the National Park Service. Both Saoirse's grandfather Robert F. Kennedy and her great-uncle former president John F Kennedy have lived there.

"The world is a little less beautiful today," the statement quoted Hill's 91-year-old grandmother, Ethel Kennedy, as saying.

Read the full statement below:

Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse. Her life was filled with hope, promise and love. She cared deeply about friends and family, especially her mother Courtney, her father Paul, her stepmother Stephanie, and her grandmother Ethel, who said, "The world is a little less beautiful today." She lit up our lives with her love, her peals of laughter and her generous spirit. Saoirse was passionately moved by the causes of human rights and women's empowerment and found great joy in volunteer work, working alongside indigenous communities to build schools in Mexico. We will love her and miss her forever.

The ABC Owned Television Stations and ABC News contributed to this report.