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Kennedy family announces death of Saoirse Hill, granddaughter of Ethel Kennedy

Saoirse Kennedy Hill.Twitter

HYANNIS PORT — Saoirse Kennedy Hill, the 22-year-old granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy, died of an apparent overdose Thursday at the Kennedy compound, according to her family and law enforcement officials.

A statement released by Kennedy Hill’s family Thursday night confirmed her death without providing a cause. A source familiar with the investigation said she died at the home of her grandmother, Ethel Kennedy, the 91-year-old widow of Robert F. Kennedy.

“Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse,” the family said in the statement. “Her life was filled with hope, promise and love. . . . We will love her and miss her forever.”


The family described Kennedy Hill as someone who cared “deeply about friends and family, especially her mother Courtney, her father Paul, her stepmother Stephanie, and her grandmother, Ethel.”

Ethel Kennedy said of her granddaughter’s death, “The world is a little less beautiful today.”

Kennedy Hill was a student at Boston College and was slated to graduate in 2020, a school spokesman said. Her father, Paul Michael Hill, was one of four people falsely convicted in the 1974 Irish Republican Army bombings of two pubs.

Barnstable police and security officers talked near Kennedy compound on Friday.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Kennedy Hill, who is listed in Deerfield Academy’s class of 2016, wrote about dealing with depression in that school’s student newspaper in February of that year.

“I have experienced a lot of stigma surrounding mental health on Deerfield’s campus,” she wrote. “As students, we have the power to end that immediately.”

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Cape & Islands district attorney’s office said Barnstable police responded to a home on Marchant Avenue in Hyannis Port “for a reported unattended death.” The matter is being investigated by Barnstable police and State Police detectives assigned to the district attorney’s office.

A call for assistance at 28 Marchant Ave. came in at 2:31 p.m., said Hyannis Fire Lieutenant David Webb.


“28 Merchant for an overdose,” a recording of a police scanner conversation archived by Broadcastify said.

An individual was transported to Cape Cod Hospital, Webb said, declining to provide additional information.

Barnstable police and State Police deferred comment to the district attorney’s office.

The Kennedy compound on Nantucket Sound, which once served as the summer White House of President John F. Kennedy, contains several residential properties now owned by extended family members.

Kennedy Hill’s death is the latest tragedy suffered by the Kennedy family, one of the nation’s most storied political clans.

President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 was followed nearly five years later by the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

In 1984, David Kennedy, one of Robert and Ethel’s 11 children, died of a drug overdose in Florida. In 1997, another son, Michael, was killed in a skiing accident in Aspen, Colo.

John F. Kennedy Jr., son of the late president and his wife, Jacqueline, was killed along with his wife and sister-in-law, when the plane he was piloting crashed off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard in July 1999.

The compound has been the scene of countless family gatherings, in good times and bad. In 2009, Senator Edward M. Kennedy was mourned there after his death from brain cancer.

On Thursday night, two police officers were stationed outside the sprawling waterfront properties. Neighbors walked their dogs and kids chatted on a private pier. The only sign that something was amiss was the throng of TV trucks sitting in a residential parking lot.


Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Danny McDonald can be reached at Sofia Saric can be reached at