Citations from the 4th Annual Report of Comhairle na Míre Gaile, for the year ended 31st December, 1950


George Jackson and John Kenny, Lower Sheriff Street, Dublin

At about 4.30pm on 13th June, 1950, a 9-year-old boy was sitting on steps leading from the canal bank to the water at Spencer Dock Bridge, North Wall when he slipped into the water. Four boys who had been swimming were on the canal bank dressing themselves. Of these, George Jackson, aged 12 years, dived into the water. He gripped the drowning boy in his arms and attempted to swim back with him to the bank about 10 feet away. John Kenny (aged 13 years) came to Jackson’s assistance and they started to drag the boy to the bank. Kenny noticed that Jackson was now in difficulties and was pulling the boy under. Kenny next found that he too was being dragged down and, releasing his grip on the drowning boy, he swam to the steps. When he looked round he saw George Jackson and the other boy separate and sink. Neither of them re-appeared. Both bodies were subsequently recovered.

George Jackson was posthumously awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery and John Kenny was awarded a Certificate of Bravery.




William Nelson, City Quay, Dublin

At about 6pm on the 25th September, 1949, two boys aged 6 and 9 years were playing by the side of the River Liffey at City Quay. Both went down the ferry steps to retrieve a holy picture which they saw floating in the river. One of them slipped on the slime and fell into the river. The other boy ran to raise the alarm. William Nelson ran from his home, jumped in the river and got hold of the child. He was swimming towards the steps with the child when a lifebuoy was thrown to him and he was helped ashore. Artificial respiration was performed on the child who was later taken home none the worse for his experience.


Laurence Farrell, Barrack Street, Waterford and Thomas Clarke, Cabra West, Dublin

At about 3.45pm on 26th November, 1949, a man jumped into the River Liffey at Queen Street Bridge. Hearing the resulting commotion, Laurence Farrell ran to the Liffey wall and dived into the river. He swam after the man, caught him and brought him to nearby steps. Meanwhile Thomas Clarke had gone down the steps and dived into the water. Clarke was, however, forced to return to the steps and assisted Farrell in taking the man to safety.


Seán Sherry, Clones, Co. Monaghan

On 10th November, 1049, a four-year-old horned bull, which was kept on a heavy chain in a field, pulled the chain form its nose. As the animal was dangerous, the owner decided to put it into a byre and accompanied by two employees, he went into the field. The bull rushed at one of the employees and tossed him into the air. The owner got in front of the bull and was also attacked. The bull tossed him into the air and commenced to gore and trample him on the ground. The other employee, Seán Sherry (aged 17 years), attacked the bull with a hay fork. He succeeded in distracting the animal’s attention and the three men were able to escape from the field.


William Brendan O’Flaherty, Sunday’s Well, Cork

In the afternoon of 20th November, 1949, two young boys were playing at St. George’s Quay, Cork, when one of them fell into the river. His companion ran away without raising the alarm. William O’Flaherty, who was cycling across the bridge, noticed the child in the river. He came round to the quayside, jumped into the river and brought the child to the quayside. The level of the water was around eight feet below the top of the quay and as, apparently, O’Flaherty had not been seen entering the river there was no one at hand to help him out of the water. A woman who was driving by noticed O’Flaherty’s bicycle and clothes on the quayside. She went to the quayside and saw O’Flaherty clinging to a timber pile. She got a rug from her car and supported O’Flaherty until a man climbed down the pile and took the boy. O’Flaherty then swam to a slip where he was able to get out of the water.


Patrick Coddington, Drogheda, Co. Louth

On 21st December, 1949, a man was cycling along the quays at Drogheda. In swerving to avoid some children his bicycle skidded on the frosty surface and he fell into the river. Patrick Coddington, who was working nearby, was informed of the situation. He dived into the river and after a severe struggle succeeded in bringing the man to the side where both were helped out of the water.


Charles Dillon, North Cumberland Street, Dublin

On 22nd April, 1949, a cargo of timber was being unloaded on the m.v. ‘Kilkenny’, berthed at the North Wall. A hoist which was being used in the work struck one of the workers, and knocked him from the vessel into the Liffey. When falling, the man’s head struck the side of the ship and he was rendered unconscious. Charles Dillon, who was also employed on the ship, dived into the river. He dived underneath the surface and managed to get hold of him. With the aid of other dockers both men were taken from the river. The injured man was detained in hospital for a week.


Phelim Russell, Castleforbes Road, Dublin

At about 1.40pm on 19th March, 1950, a man was noticed floating face downwards in the river at the North Wall Quay. The alarm was raised and Phelim Russell and another man came to the scene. Mr. Russell went down the ferry steps and entered the water. He swam to the man and pushed him towards the steps where the other man and another onlooker assisted in getting the man to the quay. The rescued man and Mr. Russell were then taken to hospital.



John Murphy, Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny

On 17th February, 1950, the skipper of a barge fell into the Grand Canal from the stern of the boat he was steering into a stretch of the Canal from the River Barrow. The man struck the rudder of the vessel when falling and he sank almost immediately. John Murphy, the only other person on the vessel, jumped into the canal and seized the drowning man. He endeavoured to swim with him to the bank but became entangled with him and lost his grip. The man then sank and Murphy made several attempts to locate him but had to cease when he became exhausted in the icy cold water.


Daniel McCormack, Gardiner’s Hill, Cork and James Doherty, Drumcondra, Dublin

At midday on 31st January, 1950, two boys aged 6 and 7 years were going home from school for lunch. One of the boys threw a tin can into the River Lee and both commenced to throw stones at it. In doing so one of them fell into the river. James McCormack, who was driving by in a van, saw the boy in the water. He stopped the van and dived 20 feet into the water. He caught hold of the boy and brought him towards the quay wall but then, owing to the coldness of the water, his strength gave out. He went under with the boy. James Doherty was indoors nearby when he was informed of the matter. He ran to the scene and jumped in the water. He secured a grip on McCormack and brought him to a ladder where both were assisted from the water. Doherty was not aware until it was too late that the boy was in the river.


John Purcell, Rochestown, Co. Cork and Leendert Halfstede, Crosshaven, Co. Cork

On 10th February, 1950, a squad of men were working at pile driving at the Custom House Quay, Cork. One of them was standing on a wooden railing which extended over the water when the railing swayed outwards and the man was thrown into the water. When John Purcell saw his companion fall he jumped into the water after him. The man was then about two feet underwater and Purcell caught hold of his clothing but this tore in his hand. Purcell found that the rubber boots he was wearing were dragging him under as they filled with water and he was obliged to give up his attempt at rescue. Leendert Halfstede, who had been working near the drowning man, dived into the water. He could not, however, find any trace of the man though he continued his search for some time.


John O’Flynn, George’s Quay, Cork

At about 4.30pm on 3rd February, 1950, a young boy was returning from school along St. George’s Quay when he slipped and fell into the River Lee. He was being carried towards the centre of the river when the alarm was raised. John O’Flynn, who was passing nearby, heard the alarm and ran to the scene. He plunged into the river and brought the boy to the quayside.


Austin Quinn, Castlebar, Co. Mayo

On 9th March, 1950, an old man of 72 years overbalanced on the bank of the Castlebar river and fell into the water. He managed to obtain a hold on an iron bar which assisted him in keeping his head above water. Sometime afterwards at about 6.30pm Austin Quinn left his forge near the river and was walking by. He heard the old man’s cried for help and saw his head in the water. Quinn, who is a non-swimmer, ran to the man and jumped in the water. The man immediately grabbed his rescuer and both went under the water. Quinn managed eventually to get the man to safety.


Seán Creamer, Columkille Street, Limerick

On 10th May, 1949, a young boy aged 8 years was swinging on a rope which was attached to a tree on the Island Bank on the River Shannon at Limerick. While swinging, the rope slipped off the tree and the boy was thrown into the river. Seán Creamer saw the boy falling into the river and went immediately to his assistance. He dived into about 15 feet of water and after some time succeeded in bringing the boy to the bank.


Francis Oates, Lower Rutland Street, Dublin

At noon on 1st April, 1950, a man jumped into the Liffey from O’Connell Bridge. He was carried by a strong ebbing current in the direction of Butt Bridge. Francis Oates (62 years) was standing on the quayside when he saw the man in the river. He went along the quay to get ahead of the man before jumping in and swimming towards him. Oates made an attempt to rescue him, but owing to the strong current he could not give much assistance. Another man had meanwhile secured a row boat and Butt Bridge and intercepted the two men. He succeeded in bringing them to a boat which was berthed at Custom House Quay. Oates and the rescued man were unconscious when taken from the water and were removed to Jervis Street Hospital where the latter was found to be dead. Oates was detained in hospital until the 3rd April.


William and Robert Power, Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary

On 14th February, 1950, a man was driving to Tramore by way of Carrick-on-Suir. In Main Street he enquired as to the road to Tramore and having been directed proceeded on his way. Unfortunately, he took a wrong turning and drove down a laneway leading to a river. He did not notice the river until practically on its verge when he made an effort to swerve. The car toppled into the river and turned upside down as it fell. Robert and William Power saw this happen. Robert jumped onto the bottom of the car which was floating downriver and as he was passing a barge, he caught hold of it until the strain became so great that he was forced to let go. Meanwhile, William had gone for aid and returned just as Robert let go of the car. The rescuers obtained a small boat and rowed after the car. By the time the Powers reached the car it had righted itself and sunk to the bottom. The car was brought to the river bank where the brothers Power entered the water and brought the deceased’s body ashore.


Thomas C. Burrowes, Crumlin, Dublin

At around 5.30pm on 24th April, 1950, an old man, aged 79 years, who was in the habit of sitting on the wooden arm of the lock gate at Portobello Harbour fell into the lock basin. Thomas Burrowes heard the uproar and ran over to the lock basin where he saw the man lying face downwards in the water. He dived into the lock and lifted the man’s head out of the water. A lifebuoy was lowered to Burrowed, who with its aid, supported the old man. After about ten minutes another man climbed down the lock gate with a rope which was put around the old man. He was then hauled to the top of the basin.

Peter Cannon, Calderwood Avenue, Dublin

At about 3.30pm on the 29th April, 1950, an employee was looking out of a window in the Clonliffe Flour Mills which overlook the Royal Canal when he saw a child struggling in the water. He shouted to two men who were passing by and one of them, Peter Cannon, jumped into the canal and brought the child, a girl aged about five years, to the bank. Cannon then applied artificial respiration and the child recovered in a short time.


Private John O’Brien, Custume Barracks, Athlone, Co. Westmeath

At about 7.30pm on 8th May, 1950, Private John O’Brien was seated near the River Shannon at Athlone when his attention was attracted by the cries of some boys. O’Brien saw two legs sticking out of the water. He jumped in and managed to get the boy’s head over the water. As a sluice gate further down the river was open there was a strong current in the river. Another man had arrived on the scene and he held his hand out but O’Brien failed to reach it and the current swept him out. O’Brien managed to come closer to the wall, however, and eventually caught the man’s hand and held on until such time as a row boat arrived and rescuer and rescued were taken into it.


Kevin P. Corr, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin

On the 21st May, 1950, a party of six persons left Dun Laoghaire harbour in a five-ton yacht. When about a quarter of a mile off shore, one of the members slipped and fell into the sea. Ropes were thrown to him but he failed to grasp them. Kevin Corr then dived into the water and kept the man afloat until it was possible to take them both aboard the yacht. The rescued man was by then unconscious and was brought to Dun Laoghaire harbour and thence by ambulance to hospital. Artificial respiration was applied for some hours but without avail.


Mary Keane, High Street, Kilkenny

In the afternoon of 28th March, 1950, a young child aged 3 ½ years was being taken for a walk along a canal adjacent to the River Nore at Kilkenny when she fell into the canal. The maid who was in charge of the child raised the alarm. Mary Keane, who was nearby, saw the child’s hair ribbon appear on the surface of the water and she jumped in. She searched for and located the child and brought her out of the water. Miss Keane applied artificial respiration until the child recovered consciousness.


William O’Sullivan, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny

At about 1.00am on 22nd May, 1950, a general merchant’s premises at Logan Street, Thomastown, were observed to be on fire. The fire spread very rapidly and despite the efforts of three fire brigades the premises were completely destroyed. The owner, his married son and the latter’s family were asleep in rooms at the top of the three storey building. Mr. William O’Sullivan rang and knocked on the doorway and, when he got no response, burst in the door and went upstairs. He roused the son and his family, including a child aged 2 years, and then with great difficulty wakened the owner and left him apparently getting ready to leave the building. He returned to the young child but when he went with him to the stairs he met a wall of smoke. Thinking that the child could not survive if he went through the smoke, O’Sullivan returned to the drawing room, and leaving the baby with his mother and the maid, with extreme difficulty he managed to reach the shop which was burning fiercely. He does not recollect how he left the shop but he recovered in the yard and attempted to go back to the drawing room but was unable to do so. All the occupants of the house, except the owner, had meanwhile managed to escape. Efforts to reach the owner failed, and he perished.


Bartholomew O’Driscoll, Gurranebraher, Co. Cork

On 4th April, 1950, at about 1.30pm an old man, aged 70 years, was walking along Albert Quay, Cork. The man slipped and fell into the water which was about 16 feet deep at the spot. Bartholomew O’Driscoll was sitting about 50 yards away. He heard the splash and saw the man in the water. He ran to the spot, dived in and managed to locate the man who had disappeared under the water. He swam towards the quayside and held onto him until two men in a rowing boat came to his assistance and both rescuer and rescued were brought to the quayside.


William Power, Kilmacow, Co. Kilkenny

On 30th May, 1950, an old lady aged 65 years when getting water from a well fell feet first into the well. The well is about 20 feet deep, 4 ½ feet in diameter and contained about 6 feet of water. The woman was heard moaning by a neighbour who raised the alarm. William Power came on the scene with a rope which he tied to a board at the mouth of the well. He descended the well and fastened the rope under the woman’s arms. He then directed the neighbour to keep a pull on the rope. Further help arrived in about half an hour when the woman was taken from the well. She was then unconscious.


John Hanley, Gurranebraher Avenue, Cork and John Cogan, Gurranebraher, Cork

At about 7.45pm on 5th May, 1950, a man jumped into the River Lee at Camden Quay, Cork. John Hanley saw him in the water, dived in and swam to the man. Both men went under and when they came to the surface Hanley succeeded in turning the drowning man on his back. Hanley was by then exhausted so he shouted for help and John Cogan came to his aid. Together they succeeded in bringing the man to the quayside and with the assistance of others he was taken from the water. The man was then unconscious.


James Kelleher, Macroom, Co. Cork

On 18th June, 1950, a number of boys were bathing at Clondrohid, Macroom, Co. Cork. One of the boys ventured to cross the river and got into difficulties some 20 feet from the bank. It was only when the boy went under water that his companions realised the seriousness of the situation and James Kelleher, who was on the river bank, plunged into the water and swam towards the boy but could not locate him. He swam back to the bank, wrenched a branch from a tree and swam back out again. Guided by bubbles he swam to the spot and thrust the branch down. The drowning youth gripped it but Kelleher lost his grip of the branch and had to return to the bank. The bubbles still continued to appear so Kelleher went out again and managed to get hold of the branch. He pulled the boy to shallow water. The youth was then unconscious but recovered after about 10 minutes.


Monica Reynolds, Garristown, Co. Dublin and Noel Cross, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin

When Miss Monica Reynolds and her niece were bathing at Balbriggan on 12th June, 1950, they got into difficulties, and were taken out to sea on an ebb tide in a particularly rough sea. Miss Reynolds held her niece out of the water until the cries of the latter for help attracted the attention of Noel Cross, who was sunbathing on the strand. He swam out to the women and took the niece from her aunt. He experienced great difficulty in getting ashore due to the waves and the strong undercurrent. When he noticed that Miss Reynolds had not come ashore, Cross went to her assistance. She was being dragged out to sea and Cross was unable to get close to her. He was forced to come ashore. He then drove to the harbour and Balbriggan and informed some people of what had happened. Two local men went out in a small rowing boat and after a half-hour’s search they located Miss Reynold’s body.


Eileen Deasy, Kinsale, Co. Cork; Dominick J. Giltinan, Highfield Avenue, Cork City; Arthur O’Connor, Munster and Leinster Bank, Cork City; James Murphy, Kinsale, Co. Cork and Michael Connolly, Kinsale, Co. Cork

At about 4.30pm on 30th July, 1950, a young boy aged 10 years got into difficulties while bathing at Garrettstown Strand and was being swept out to sea. Miss Eileen Deasy, who was bathing at the time, swam to the boy’s assistance and supported him but both were swept out to sea. Miss Deasy shouted for help and a number of people entered the water. Two of these, Arthur O’Connor and Michael Connolly, got into difficulties but managed to regain the shore. Dominick Giltinan went to the resuce but got caught in the current and disappeared from sight. His body was recovered shortly before midnight. James Murphy swam out for about 300 yards and took the boy off Miss Deasy. She endeavoured to reach the shore but she drowned. Murphy supported the boy for about twenty minutes but failed to reach the shore and was forced to release the boy who was apparently then dead. Murphy was washed ashore after one hour and ten minutes in the sea. His condition necessitated medical treatment for a week.


Michael Dervan, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway

On the afternoon of 11th June, 1950, a youth, who is a non-swimmer, was in a boat on the River Suck at Ballinasloe and decided to enter the water from the boat and walk towards a small island in the river. When about five yards from the island, he stepped into a hole about 20 feet deep and got into difficulties. Michael Dervan swam across to the island and then, seeing that the youth was sinking, he entered the water again and caught the youth by the hair and swam with him to the river bank.





Father John Lalor, Oxford, England; Kathleen Boylan, Donnybrook, Dublin and John Sheridan, Westport, Co. Mayo

On the morning of 25th July, 1950, two sisters, who were on holiday from Dublin, went swimming in Oaghgowen Cove, Dooagh, Achill, Co. Mayo. When they tried to return to the shore, due to the current and heavy waves, one of them was unable to do so. Her sister raised the alarm and returned with the mother, Mrs. Kathleen Boylan. Meanwhile, Father John Lalor had gone to the other girl’s assistance. He kept her afloat until his strength gave out and he began to drift seawards. Mrs. Boylan went out and kept her daughter afloat. None of the party in the water could reach shore. John Sheridan came to their aid but his efforts were also unavailing. He returned to the shore for a rope and was on his way out again when a currach manned by three men appeared on the scene. The men brought Father Lalor, Mrs. Boylan and her daughter ashore and John Sheridan managed to reach shore by himself.


Alan Foster, Greystones, Co. Wicklow

At noon on 1st August, 1950, a 62-year-old man and a boy went swimming in the men’s bathing place at Greystones. Due to the heavy sea and severe backwash from the rocks, the boy was unable to reach the shore and the man went to his assistance. The boy was finally taken from the water by his father. The man, however, was heard shouting for help and was seen to be floating on his back out to sea. Alan Foster dived into the sea and swam to the drowning man who was then about 25 yards from the rocks and unconscious. Foster towed him to the rocks and with the assistance of a lifebelt succeeded in getting him ashore.


Michael O’Sullivan, Rathmines, Dublin

At about 4pm on 7th October, 1950, a young boy aged 9 years who was playing on the steps of the quay wall at George’s Quay, Dublin, slipped and fell into the Liffey. His companion, who had been playing with him, shouted for help. A lifebuoy was thrown to the boy, but he was unable to grasp it. Michael O’Sullivan was walking along the quay at the time and he jumped into the water and swam towards a point of the river where he saw some bubbles where the child had sunk. He caught hold of the child and with the aid of the lifebuoy brought him to the quay wall, where they were assisted from the river.


Hugh Ward, Arranmore Island, Co. Donegal

On 12th July, 1950, a number of children were playing on Leabgarrow pier, Arranmore Island. One of them stumbled over a tying ring and fell into the sea, which was then about 10 feet deep and 4 feet below the level of the pier. Hugh Ward (aged 15 years) was on the pier some distance away. He rushed to the scene and jumped into the water. The child had gone under the water but Master Ward succeeded in grasping him and raising him to the surface. The child clung to Ward’s neck with both hands, but having broken his hold Ward swam with him to the shore.




Augustine Hanley, Island Road, Limerick

At about 2.30pm on 30th July, 1950, a youth, aged 19 years, went for a swim in the River Shannon at Athlunkard, Ardnacrusha. He got into difficulties and a companion gave the alarm. Augustine Hanley was crossing the river at the bridge at the time when his attention was attracted by the companion. He ran to the spot, jumped into the water and swam to where the youth had disappeared. He located him at the bottom of the river and brought him to the surface. He then took him to the river bank with the assistance of two other men.


Joseph Cullen, Audeon’s Terrace, Dublin

When returning from school at about 4pm on 28th September, 1950, a young boy, aged 5 years, fell into the canal. Joseph Cullen, who was passing by in a lorry, was hailed by a woman who informed him that the child was in the canal. Cullen entered the water and brought the child, who was unconscious, to the bank.