Citations from the 3rd Annual Report of Comhairle na Míre Gaile, for the year ended 31st December, 1949




James McDermott, Saggart, Co. Dublin; James Doyle, Saggart, Co. Dublin and Daniel O’Brien, Clondalkin, Co. Dublin

On the afternoon of 3rd February, 1949, while five Army aircraft were engaged in a routine training flight at a height of 4,000 feet, two of the aircrafts collided and burst into flames. They crashed about a hundred yards from each other on a farm adjoining the Dublin/Naas Road at Brownsburn, Saggart. Messrs. McDermott and Doyle, who were employed on the farm, and Mr. O’Brien, the farm manager, dashed to the nearest plane. Mr. McDermott rushed in and caught hold of the pilot’s hand, but he was beaten back by the heat. He then pulled his overcoat over his head, and ran in again, when he succeeded in catching one of the pilot’s hands. Mr. Doyle grasped one of the pilot’s feet while Mr. O’Brien grabbed the pilot from the opposite side of the plane. All three of them removed the body of the pilot. Mr. O’Brien then ran to the road, stopped a motor car and dispatched Mr. McDermott for a priest. Mr. Doyle went to the second crash, but he found the flames so intense he could do nothing. The blaze was so intense that Air Corps personnel subsequently had great difficulty in extinguishing it.




Daniel Donegan, North Crumlin, Dublin

At 1.30pm on 9th October, 1948, a 7 ½ year old boy, while trying to retrieve a toy boat from the Grand Canal at the Second Lock Bridge, Inchicore, fell into the water and was carried out to the centre by the strong current. Mr. Donegan was cycling home from work at the time and he was attracted by the shouts of those who had witnessed the occurrence. He jumped in without hesitation, caught the boy by the arm as he was about to go down and brought him to the other bank.


John Byrne, Kevin Street, Dublin and Andrew Forde, Harold’s Cross, Dublin

Shortly after dusk on 23rd October, 1948, a six-year-old boy fell in the Grand Canal, close to Harold’s Cross Bridge. His young companions told Mr. Byrne, who was cycling near Portobello Bridge. Hastening to the scene, Mr. Byrne saw the child’s head above the water about 6 feet out from the bank and he went into the canal to grasp the child by the head. The child struggled, however, so Mr. Byrne got into difficulty and called for help. Mr. Forde saw him in difficulty so he reached in, handed him the belt of an overcoat and hauled him out. Mr. Byrne then informed Mr. Forde that there was a child in the canal. Mr. Forde dived in, located the child under the water and swam with him to the other side of the canal.


Thomas O’Keefe, Usher’s Island, Dublin and Private Liam Doherty, Portobello Barracks, Dublin

While walking along Arran Quay on 31st October, 1948, Mr. O’Keefe saw a man jump in the Liffey. He jumped into the river and swam out to the drowning man. There was a strong ebb tide and the water was ten feet deep. Private Doherty saw the men in the water and jumped in to assist Mr. O’Keefe. Both men were poor swimmers and found they could make no headway against the tide in the direction of the nearest steps. Fortunately, a lifebuoy was brought up, and all three men were hauled to safety.


James McKeever, Ballyshannon

An 11-year-old boy fell into the canal at Navan, Co. Meath, on 24th October, 1948. His brother (13 years) ran towards the road and met James McKeever. Mr. McKeever scaled the wall – 10 feet high – of the field adjoining the canal and ran to the spot. He jumped in the canal and reached the frightened and struggling child who brought him under the water twice before the rescuer was able to bring him to the bank. Mr. McKeever got the child to grasp the weeds at the canal bank and left the water while a rope was obtained. The rope was thrown to the boy and he was pulled out.


John Flynn, Dunmore East, Co. Waterford

In the evening of 5th October, 1948, Mr. Flynn and a 14-year-old boy left Dunmore East in a small fishing boat to travel to Saleen, 4 miles along the coast. After about an hour, the boar sprang a leak and the engine failed. While the boy bailed out continuously, Mr. Flynn dropped anchor and lit some old clothes soaked in paraffin, in an unsuccessful endeavour to attract attention. An attempt was made to reach Ballymacaw Cove with the aid of a foresail but the water in the boat continued to rise. Near the cove the boat struck a rock and sank quickly in deep water, about 30 yards off the cliffs. Mr. Flynn was swept overboard but went to the assistance of the boy and brought him to a rock at the foot of the cliffs. The boy was washed off the cliff by a wave, but was pulled up again by Mr. Flynn. They then climbed the cliffs and reached a farmhouse at 2am the following morning.


Garda Hugh Travers, Bridewell Garda Station, Dublin

At 11.30am on 19th September, 1946, a driverless horse and dray bolted up Capel Street, which was congested at the time, and caused considerable alarm. As the animal slowed somewhat behind a bus turning into Parnell Street, Garda Travers, who was on duty, caught the left shaft of the dray with one hand and the horse’s head with the other. After strenuous exertions he halted the animal and, after some time, quietened him. The Garda was injured as a result of his efforts.


Private Patrick Kane, Portobello Barracks, Dublin

On the evening of 16th August, 1947, Private Kane entered the Liffey at Long Meadows, Chapelizod, from the south bank, followed by two soldiers who were rather weak swimmers. He had almost reached the north bank when he heard a call for help from one of his companions. He and the other companion went to assist, but then this man got into difficulty and Private Kane had to push him to the south bank. Private Kane then went to help the other soldier and was bringing him to the north bank when he became entangled in submerged weeds and grappled with him. Thoroughly exhausted, Private Kane released his grip and swam with difficulty to the bank where he was pulled out. Recovering, he swam across the river to help in the unsuccessful attempt to revive the second soldier whose body had been recovered in the meantime.


Joseph Whelan, Sandycove, Dun Laoghaire

Owing to a strong south easterly gale and heavy rain on the night of the 5th December, 1947, the M.V. ‘Isallt’ was driven onto a sandbank at Ballymoney, Co. Wexford. The vessel’s six occupants took to a boat a few minutes before the vessel foundered but the ship’s boat was swamped and capsized. The cabin boy Joseph Whelan, a non-swimmer, was washed ashore uninjured. Having lain there exhausted for some time, he heard a call for assistance from the only other survivor, who was clinging to some wave-swept rocks opposite the wreck. Owing to rib injuries, the man could not scale a rock face 10 feet high to reach high land behind. This was effected with Whelan’s assistance.


Patrick J. Walsh, Ballyfarnon, Co. Roscommon; Vincent Gilroy, Keadue, Roscommon; Thomas Kearns, Geevagh, Co. Sligo and Patrick Keaveney, Ballyfarnon, Co. Roscommon

In the afternoon of 21st January, 1946, a miner working in a coal mine at Cross Hill, Carrick-on-Shannon, was trapped by a fall of slate from the roof of a tunnel, which was less than 4 feet wide and 4 feet high. Messrs. Walsh, Gilroy, Kearns and Keaveney arrived shortly after and commenced to remove the rock by hand as the tunnel was too narrow to permit shovelling. A further heavy fall of rock occurred at this spot, however, injuring Mr. Kearns. Messrs. Walsh and Gilroy, however, resumed operations and soon the man’s head was uncovered. Another 1 ½ hours shovelling was necessary to release the man. Other men (including Mr. Keaveney) helped to remove the rock material which was shovelled out by Messrs. Walsh and Gilroy. It is estimated that 5 tons of rock had to be removed. The rescued man was detained in hospital for a month as a result of his injuries.


John Hawthorne, Mark Street, Dublin

In the evening of 28th November, 1948, at George’s Quay, Dublin, Mr. Hawthorne, while on his way to take up duty as a night watchman, was informed that a child had fallen into the Liffey. He rushed to the wall and saw the child floating on its back about 10 feet out. He jumped in, grasped the child and swam back towards the wall. Before he reached the wall, however, he got into difficulties and a young man entered the water with a lifebuoy and assisted him and the child to safety, with the help of some men at the quayside.


Philip Stapleton, Arbour Hill, Dublin and James Hackett, Viking Road, Dublin

At 9am on the 20th May, 1948, a fire occurred in the scullery of a house in Mount Temple Road, Arbour Hill, Dublin, and rapidly took hold. The housewife endeavoured unsuccessfully to extinguish the flames and then rushed out on the street, raising the alarm. She believed her 7-year-old grandson was trapped inside but he had in fact climbed out of the bedroom window. Mr. Stapleton was in his house, about 30 yards away, when he heard the alarm. He rushed to the scene and, learning that there was a child upstairs, went up the burning staircase, receiving burns on his face. Failing to find the child upstairs, he proceeded to come back by the stairs, but lost consciousness due to the smoke and fell down the stairs. There he was found by Mr. Hackett, who was passing by at the time. Mr. Hackett removed him from the foot of the stairs and then himself ascended the burning staircase in an attempt to find the child. He too suffered burns as a result.


Dr. John McDonnell, Rathmines, Co. Dublin

After dark on 24th January, 1949, a man fell into the Liffey from the parapet on O’Connell Bridge. He was observed to be swimming strongly but when Dr. McDonnell arrived he had weakened. Dr. McDonnell ran down Eden Quay and dived into the water. He swam towards an object that appeared to be the body of a man, but when he caught hold of it, it commenced to sink. Dr. McDonnell went under the water with it and came up with a coat in his hand. Having tried a second time and failed, owing to the darkness, to locate the body, he swam towards an iron ladder on the quay wall.


Malcolm P. Williams, Caister-on-Sea, near Great Yarmouth, England

On 29th March, 1949, a man fell into the Liffey from George’s Quay. A man who observed the occurrence ran on board the S.S. ‘Fixity’, moored 30 yards from where the man had fallen to raise the alarm. Seaman Williams (18 years) immediately took off his coat and dived in. He swam out to the drowning man and with great difficulty brought him back against the current towards the ship. He was assisted by another crew member who had jumped in the water. Both men grasped a line which was thrown from the ship, while the derrick was lowered to haul the unconscious man aboard. The rescuers climbed up a rope ladder.


Joseph Carey, Abbey Street, Dublin and Edward Duff, Crumlin, Dublin

On the morning of 16th April, 1949, a woman observed a small boy floating in the centre of the canal at Charlemont Bridge. In response to her screams for help Master Carey (15 years), came on the scene. He jumped into the canal just as the boy disappeared but got into difficulties and turned back. Meanwhile Mr. Duff, who was driving a motor van towards the bridge, had joined the onlookers. Seeing that Joseph Carey was in difficulties he jumped in, caught the boy as he disappeared under the water for the third time, and brought him to the bank. He also assisted Joseph Carey. The child was brought to hospital for treatment.


Nicholas Maddock, Mayor’s Walk, Waterford

In the evening of 30th April, 1949, a little boy, while endeavouring to retrieve a football, fell into a tidal waterway known as ‘The Pill’ at Waterford. Having got into difficulties he was carried by the current to midstream. Mr. Maddock, who was standing nearby with a companion, noticed the boy’s hands over water near the football and rushed to the scene. He jumped in. The boy had disappeared for the third time when he reached him, but Mr. Maddock dived underneath and raised him above the water. Not being a strong swimmer, and as the boy struggled violently, Mr. Maddock was quite exhausted when he arrived at the bank; both he and the boy had to be helped onto the bank by Mr. Maddock’s companion.


Joseph Coleman, Hill Street, Dublin

On the 5th May, 1949, a small boy fell into the canal under Summerhill Bridge. Master Coleman (14) and his employer were standing some 50 yards away and they rushed to the bridge. The boy was floating in the water, about six feet from the bank. Master Coleman’s employer, a non-swimmer, held the bricked edge of the canal with his hands and stretched his feet over the water in a fruitless endeavour to get the child to grip them. Master Coleman then jumped into the water and swam to the boy. He kept the child’s head above the water with one hand and swam back with him to the bank, where they were pulled out by his employer.


William Kelly, Summerhill, Dublin

At noon on 17th May, 1949, Mr. Kelly, while cycling along Malahide Road, heard shouts from a number of people gathered at a quarry hole that a child had fallen in. He ran to the spot, saw the child floating motionless on its back and immediately entered the stagnant water. Mr. Kelly, who cannot swim, and who was unaware of the depth, waded out chest deep through the weeds and mud, and towed the unconscious child to the bank. The child revived after medical treatment.


Dr. Francis Griffin, Sandymount, Dublin

While cycling along Wood Quay in the afternoon of 1st June, 1949, Dr. Griffin saw people on the opposite side of the Liffey pointing at the water. Dismounting, he saw a woman struggling in the water. He immediately jumped in, swam to the woman and brought her to a ladder at Essex Quay, some 50 or 60 yards away. He carried her up the ladder with the assistance of spectators.


George O’Connor, Bride Street, Dublin

At about 9pm on 12th May, 1949, two boys who were playing on the canal bank near Griffith Bridge, Crumlin, fell into the water. Master O’Connor (16 years), who was sitting on Griffith Bridge, saw that they could not swim and were in difficulties. He ran to the bank and jumped into the canal. He assisted one of the boys to the bank without difficulty but when he went out to the second boy, who had drifted out towards the centre, the boy struggled with him and they both went underwater. Master O’Connor managed to free himself and get the boy to the bank.


Emmett Griffin, Joe Guiheen and Martin Flannery, Dingle, Co. Kerry

On the night of 9th/10th May, 1949, the engine of a motor fishing boat, with three men on board, failed about ten miles off Puffin Island, in St. Finian’s Bay, Co. Kerry, and drifted rapidly towards the rocky shore. The men endeavoured for three hours to stem the drift using oars. There was heavy fog, but it cleared somewhat and the boat was visible to the crew of the ‘Naomh Moibhi’, a larger motor fishing boat which was manned by Messrs. Guiheen, Flannery and Griffin. The’Naomh Moibhi’ manoeuvred near to the disabled boat, which was by this time very close to the shore, threw a tow-line and towed the boat clear of the rocks, holding it in tow as far as Portmagee Pier.


Michael O’Malley, Achill, Co. Mayo

On 19th June, 1949, five youths including Michael O’Malley (aged 19 years), went swimming at the Boat Port, Keel, Achill. They swam to the opposite side of the inlet and while re-crossing the inlet they commenced to race each other. Four of them had reached the point from which they had originally started when they observed that the remaining youth, aged 19 years, was in serious difficulty about 40 yards away and about 12 yards from the beach. All of the youths were exhausted from the race and none of them would venture to his aid except Michael O’Malley, who is by no means a strong swimmer. He swam to the youth but by the time he reached him, he was so exhausted that he knew he could render no assistance. He called for a hand-barrow (used for carrying nets) and some people on the shore pushed it out to him. Mr. O’Malley used the barrow to support the youth and himself and tow the youth to shore.


Christopher Farrell, Naas, Co. Kildare

While walking with his wife and child on the bank of the canal near Tandy’s Bridge, Naas, on the 26th June, 1949, Mr. Farrell heard that a man and his 12-year-old son were in difficulties in the canal. It appears that the father took his son on his back to swim across the canal but halfway across the boy panicked and caught the father’s arms so tightly that he could not swim and soon became exhausted from his efforts. Mr. Farrell jumped into the canal, succeeded in separating the father and son and brought them to safety.


William Hynes, Tara Street, Dublin

While playing with his companions on the 6th June,1949, a young boy fell from a wooden plank crossing the canal chamber at Clanwilliam Place, Dublin. At that time the water was 16 feet deep and the sides which, being of plastered limestone, afforded no grip were 4 feet above water level. Mr. Hynes, who was sitting nearby, jumped in and swam a few strokes to the boy who was then under water. He struggled with the boy for some minutes before getting him under control. Mr. Hynes then lifted the boy on his back so it was possible for two men to haul him on to the bank. The child and his rescuer soon recovered.


James Conlon, James’ Walk, Dublin

While Mr. Conlon was walking near the Grand Canal on the 18th May, 1949, he heard the scream of a boy from the canal about 100 yards away and saw the boy’s head over the water. The boy had sunk for the third time before Mr. Conlon was able to reach the spot where he had last seen the boy sink. He managed to catch hold of him and bring him to the bank, where both were assisted by two men who had arrived in the meantime.


Edward Noonan, Pallaskenry, Co. Limerick

At 10pm on the 2nd July, 1949, a youth (aged 17 years), who was unable to swim, entered the water from a ladder at Ringmoylan Pier, Pallaskenry. Having endeavoured to swim a few strokes, he was carried swiftly by the current into the centre of the river. His two companions, being also non-swimmers, were unable to go to his assistance, but just before he disappeared Mr. Noonan arrived on the pier and saw that the youth was in danger. He dived in, swam to where the youth had disappeared and brought him to the surface. The youth struggled and almost dragged Mr. Noonan underwater, so he had to let go his hold. The youth sank once more so Mr. Noonan again dived and this time he managed to bring him to shallow water, where he received assistance. The rescued youth recovered after artificial respiration had been applied for twenty minutes.


John L. Flanagan, Drumcondra, Dublin

On the 26th June, 1949, a young man (18 years), having had a swim with three companions at Baily, Howth, commenced to climb a cliff nearby, which was 70 feet high. He had climbed about 30 feet when he found he could go no further. He decided to return, but when he put his foot on a ledge of rock, it gave way and he fell down the cliff, sustaining very severe injuries. The services of the Howth Lifeboat were requisitioned. Meanwhile, Mr. Flanagan, a private in the St. John Ambulance Brigade, was walking along the top of the cliff and learned about the accident. He succeeded with great difficulty and considerable personal risk in climbing down a cliff about 40 feet high. He rendered first aid and remained with the man until the lifeboat arrived. The crew of the lifeboat found it impossible, owing to large rocks and a rough sea, to reach the spot where the injured man was. They had to leave the boat and swim to the cliff base and then climb the cliff. Having placed the man on an improvised stretcher, they descended the treacherous cliff and waded and swam out some 200 yards to the lifeboat. The man recovered after prolonged hospital treatment.


Richard Murray, Devonshire Street West, Cork

On the 9th June, 1949, a small boy, while playing, fell from the slip at Coal Quay, Cork, into 16 feet of water and was carried out by the strong ebb current. On hearing the alarm, Mr. Murray rushed to the scene where he saw the child floating about 20 feet out. He jumped in, reached the child and succeeded in bringing him back to the slip, where he was assisted by two men. The child responded quickly to artificial respiration.


Thomas White and James Baxter, Belturbet, Co. Cavan

On the 12th July, 1949, a youth (16 years), who was unable to swim, got into difficulties about 15 yards from the bank of the River Erne at Straheglin, Belturbet, Co. Cavan. Thomas White (16 years), James Baxter (17 years) and another youth were swimming nearby when White noticed the youth’s predicament and swam to his aid. He caught hold of the youth by the hair and endeavoured to raise him to the surface but the youth grasped his shoulder and was dragging him under. White shouted for assistance and managed to release himself, while James Baxter came to assist. Exhausted by his efforts, White had to return to the bank. Baxter was caught by the leg and pulled under by the youth. The other youth also tried to help but after further attempts at rescue both he and James Baxter were forced owing to fatigue to return to the river bank. Other persons who were present dived around the spot where the youth had disappeared in an effort to locate him. His body was not recovered, however, until the following day.



Martin O’Flanagan, Clonakilty, Co. Cork

On the 23rd June, 1949, two men went for a swim in a channel which runs through Inchydoney Strand, near Clonakilty, to the sea. One of the men commenced to swim with the current in a seaward direction, while the other remained close to the point at which he entered the water. Mr. O’Flanagan was seated about 300 yards away at the time and he heard a cry coming from the channel. He saw that the first man was in difficulties and was in danger of being carried out to sea. He plunged into the water and reached the semi-conscious man after a struggle with the current. He took him down with the current for about 40 yards where, with the help of others who had gathered, he brought him to safety. Mr. O’Flanagan applied artificial respiration for 15 minutes, after which the man revived. At this point, Mr. O’Flanagan was informed that the man’s companion had also disappeared and he again entered the channel in a fruitless effort to locate him. The body was located later that evening.


Donal Gallagher, Clare Street, Limerick

On the 13th July, 1949, a young man (22 years) and three boys, all poor swimmers, entered the Shannon at Garraun, Ardnacrusha, Co. Clare, to swim towards a sandbar which was about halfway across. The young man developed cramps in both legs and called for assistance. Donal Gallagher (15 years) made strong efforts to assist him but as the young man was much heavier than he, he found he was being pulled down. He had to release the man and returned, with difficulty, to the sand-bank. Fortunately, a Garda was nearby who is proficient in lifesaving and he was able to bring the man to the shore and he revived him after 15 minutes of artificial respiration.


Henry Hanlon, Sarsfield Square, Athlone

On the evening of the 23rd July, 1949, a young boy got out of his depth in the Shannon between the Weir Wall and the Strand at Wolfe Tone Terrace, Athlone. He called for help before going under and his companion shouted to Henry Hanlon (16 years). O’Hanlon saw the boy’s head reappear above the water about 20 yards away from him and swam out to that spot. He brought the boy to the surface and succeeded in bringing the boy to a boat anchored nearby. The boy recovered quickly after treatment.


Patrick Shanahan, Doonbeg, Co. Clare

A 22-year-old girl, accompanied by her brother and cousin, went bathing at Doughmore Strnad, Doonbeg, on the afternoon of the 13th August, 1949. The party waded out shoulder high and commenced to swim ashore, the two boys being somewhat faster than the girl. There is a fast undercurrent along the reefs on this beach at ebb-tide, which caused the boys to be in difficulties immediately. They were both swept away and drowned. The girl also found herself in difficulties and disappeared once or twice under the water. Mr. Shanahan, working on a farm about 200 yards away, heard the alarm and ran to the spot. He waded out shoulder high to the girl, who was hysterical due to the disappearance of her brother and cousin. The journey back was hazardous and Mr. Shanahan slipped into a number of deep holes while bringing the girl to the beach.


Brendan Carroll, Killarney, Co. Kerry

On the 14th August, 1949, two boys, aged 14 and 15 years, entered the river Flesk at Killarney Racecourse from the western bank. One boy got into difficulties about 20 feet from the bank. His companion went to his aid, calling for help as he did so, but the boy gripped him and pulled him under. He managed to free himself however. Meanwhile, Master Carroll (13 years), who was sitting on the western bank, dived into the water swam out to the boy, caught hold of his head and raised it up. The boy pulled him under but Carroll raised him a second time. A violent struggle followed but Carroll was able to maintain his hold of the boy and endeavoured to push him towards the bank. The boy gripped him by the throat, however, and pulled him under the water for the third time. Carroll freed himself but the boy slipped from his grasp and disappeared. Master Carroll was by now exhausted and floated down to a shallow part of the river, about 40 yards downstream, and staggered out of the water in a dazed condition.


John Maguire, Cavan

On the 19th June, 1949, Master John Maguire (13 years) with a number of other boys, went for a swim at Swellan Lake, Cavan. They swam for a while and all of them returned to the bank except Master Maguire, who remained in shallow water, and another boy (12 years) who was swimming about 20 yards out. The latter got into difficulties and shouted for help so Maguire swam out to him. The buy pulled him down but Maguire retained his grip and brought him to the surface. He swam back with him to the shore. The boy lapsed into unconsciousness but recovered after artificial respiration had been applied for 15 minutes.


Mervyn Webb, Ashford Street, Dublin

On the 6th August, 1949, while Mr. Webb was driving a bus towards Chapel Street Bridge, he saw a crowd of people looking into the Liffey, where a man was in difficulties near the quay wall. Mr. Webb left the bus and observed that the man had lost his grip of a lifebuoy which had been thrown to him. Mr. Webb was lowered by the rope of another lifebuoy to the man, who was then sinking. He caught him by the collar of his coat and supported him for fifteen minutes, when the ambulance arrived.


Denis Gardiner, Balfe Street, Dublin

In the early hours of the 28th August, 1949, Mr. Gardiner was on duty with two other men in the gateman’s hut at Custom House Quay, when a man was heard shouting for help. The three men ran along the quay wall and located the man, who was then in a semi-conscious condition near the quay wall, in about twenty feet of water. Mr. Gardiner threw a lifebuoy but as the man made no attempt to catch it, he jumped into the water. He held on to the lifebuoy and supported the man until, with the assistance of the two other men and some Gardaí, both men were taken from the water. The rescued man revived after artificial respiration was applied.




Garda Patrick Glancy, Drumsna, Co. Leitrim

When Garda Glancy was walking along the road which leads from Drumsna to the Quay on the Shannon on the 26th July, 1949, he saw a number of frightened children running towards him. The Garda dashed to the Quay and the outline of a child who was completely submerged in water. He jumped into the water and waded out until the water had reached his chin. The Garda swam a few stroked, dived, caught the child’s dress, brought her to the surface and pushed her a few feet towards the quay. The child had again disappeared when he reached her and he had to dive a second time. He succeeded in bringing her to the quay wall. The child recovered consciousness after treatment.