Saoirse Kennedy Hill, the granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy, passed away on Thursday afternoon at her family compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. She was one of Robert and Ethel’s 35 grandchildren.
Hill, who was the daughter of Courtney Kennedy, was 22-years-old at the time of her death. Her mother, Courtney, was one of 11 children born to the late Robert and his wife Ethel, The New York Times reports.
Boston College confirmed to The Boston Globe that Hill was a member of the class of 2020 where she was studying communications.
Saoirse’s father, Paul Michael Hill, was a member of the Guildford Four. For those unfamiliar with the history, the Guildford Four were convicted for the Guildford pub bombings during the late 1970s. Hill served 15 years behind bars before the conviction was overturned.
Saoirse’s parents tied the knot shortly after Paul was released from prison in 1993. They separated a little over a decade later in 2006.
“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,” the family statement read.
Issued by Brian Wright O’Connor, a spokesman for Saoirse Hill’s uncle, Joseph P. Kennedy II, the statement also quoted 91-year-old Ethel Kennedy: “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.”
Prior to attending Boston College, Hill shared her challenges with mental illness and depression by penning pieces for the Deerfield Academy newspaper in 2016. In one piece, she revealed that depression had rooted into her life during her middle school years.
This is Saoirse Kennedy-Hill. The young Kennedy who died today at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport. When she attended Deerfield Academy she wrote in the school paper about her depression. We DON'T know the cause of her death. She was only 22. Too young. pic.twitter.com/wyi80aweHv— David Wade (@davidwade) August 2, 2019
Citing a member of the local law enforcement, Boston 25 News reported Saoirse’s cause of death as a “suspected drug overdose.”
“Earlier this afternoon Barnstable Police responded to a residence on Marchant Ave in Hyannisport for a reported unattended death. The matter remains under investigation by Barnstable Police and State Police detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office,” Cape and Islands Assistant District Attorney Tara Miltimore said in a statement without revealing Hill’s identity.
Per The New York Times, this is far from the first tragic death to occur within the Kennedy family.
Assassins killed both President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, their brother Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. passed away during World War II, and their sister, Kathleen Cavendish, passed away in 1948 during a plane crash. Tragedy continued in 1999, when John F. Kennedy Jr. along with his wife and sister-in-law, passed away after their plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.
Saoirse also wasn’t the first member of the family to pass away from a drug-related death. Her uncle, David Anthony Kennedy, was found dead in a Florida hotel in 1984 after struggling with an addiction to both drugs and alcohol.
Some sad news:— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) August 2, 2019
RFK’s granddaughter, Saoirse Hill, overdosed today on Cape Cod. She was 22.
Her death comes 50 years after Chappaquidick and 20 years after JFK Jr died in a plane crash. https://t.co/7X1BlNrItp
A month ago also marked the 50th anniversary of another tragedy within the family when Edward M. Kennedy and his 28-year-old passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, drove off a bridge in Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, leaving Kopechne dead.
Taking to social media to respond to the sad news, many Twitter users referenced the “family curse” that some believe has plagued the Kennedy family over the years.
Other Twitter users, however, claimed they didn’t like when people referred to the “Kennedy curse” and applauded media outlets that avoided discussing it.
Saoirse Kennedy Hill, one of Robert and Ethel Kennedy's 35 grandchildren, has died, the Kennedy family announced. https://t.co/bXttTMdYJw— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 2, 2019
While paying respect to the family, several Twitter users noted the sad death was just another reminder of how big of a problem drug overdose fatalities are.
Rest in peace, Saoirse Kennedy Hill.