Saoirse Roisin Hill, a granddaughter of Ethel and Robert F. Kennedy, was found dead at the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis, Massachusetts Thursday, the family said. The official cause of death is unclear, but Barnstable police said they responded to an unattended death. Hill was 22 years old.
According to the New York Times, Hill suffered an apparent overdose.
"Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse. Her life was filled with hope, promise and love," the family said in a statement released by Brian O'Connor, spokesman for her uncle, Robert F. Kenney Jr. "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 statement said Ethel, now 91, said "The world is a little less beautiful today," reports CBS News.
According to CBS Boston, the Barnstable Police and State Police detectives are investigating Hill's death. Paramedics were called to the Kennedy home at around 3:30 p.m.
“Early this afternoon Barnstable police responded to a residence on Marchant Avenue in Hyannis Port for a report of an unattended death,” Tara Miltimore of the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office said. “The matter remains under investigation by the Barnstable police as well as state police detectives assigned to the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office.”
Hill was the daughter of Courtney, the fifth child of Robert and Ethel Kennedy. Her father was Paul Michael Hill, who was falsely convicted in 1974 Irish Republican Army bombings.
Hill was previously in the news in 2007, when two men in a white van asked her if she needed a ride. At the time, Hill told police she ran away.
Hill attended Boston College as a communication major and was a member of the College Democrats. She was open about her battle with depression and mental illness in an essay for the Deerfield Academy newspaper in 2016.
"My depression took root in the beginning of my middle school years and will be with me for the rest of my life. Although I was mostly a happy child, I suffered bouts of deep sadness that felt like a heavy boulder on my chest," she wrote at the time. "These bouts would come and go, but they did not outwardly affect me until I was a new sophomore at Deerfield."
The Kennedy compound is made up of three houses on six acres and was considered the "summer White House" during President John F. Kennedy's time in office. The Kennedy family still hosts events there, like their recent July 4 family gathering. Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, shared a big family group photo on her Instagram page to mark the occasion.
Photo credit: Tim Gray/Getty Images