Citations from the 6th Annual Report of Comhairle na Míre Gaile, for the year ended 31st December, 1952




William Lavelle, Mental Hospital Attendant, Castlebar, Co. Mayo

On the 4th June, 1951, a four-year-old child fell into Castlebar Lake. He made no outcry, but in his struggles worked himself another 12 or 15 yards from the bank. He was drowning in over 12 feet of water when the alarm was raised. William Lavelle heard the cry and dived immediately into the water. He found it difficult to reach the drowning child but when he did reach him, he grasped the child’s leg, went underneath himself and became very dazed. In his struggle to reach the surface he retained his grip on the child, however. When he reached the surface a lifebuoy was thrown to him and he grasped this and was towed ashore. Lavelle then gave artificial respiration to the child who regained consciousness after about half an hour.


Christopher, Frank and David Marshall, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary

A party of excursionists went bathing on Clonea Strand, Co. Waterford on 5th August, 1951. The weather was stormy after heavy rain and the sea was extremely choppy and turbulent. The three Marshall brothers had been in the water for over half an hour and decided to return to the shore about 100 yards distant. As they were returning, they heard a scream from a 12-year-old girl who was bathing some distance away. Frank or Christopher Marshall reached the girl and took her by the hand but was shortly afterwards separated from her by a large breaker. The girl then made her way to the shore and as she waded out she heard the man who had aided her calling for help. Both Frank and Christopher had got into difficulties – probably one of them went to the other’s assistance. David Marshall tried to help them. He reached Frank but a wave separated them and after further efforts he himself had to be helped ashore as he was in an exhausted condition. He had exposed himself to the same grave risk which cost his two brothers their lives.


Vincent Clabby, Longford

At about 3.00pm on 18th September, 1951, a four-year-old boy was seen floating in the canal. The alarm was raised and Vincent Clabby came on the scene. He immediately went to the rescue of the child, who was floating in about 7 feet of water, about 9 feet from the bank. With great difficulty he succeeded in getting the child to the bank where he recovered after treatment.


Joseph O’Brien, Evergreen Road, Cork

Three boys were walking along the weir which crosses the Lee at Lee Fields, Cork, when one of them fell in and was swept away on the flood tide. Joseph O’Brien, on hearing a shout, ran to the scene, jumped in and rescued the child who had gone under at least once when he reached him about 20 yards from the bank.

Patrick Carroll, Whiterock View, Wexford; John Brennan, Bride Street, Wexford and Aiden Ffrench, Casa Rio, Wexford

A man was bathing in Wexford Harbour when he got out of his depth and found himself in difficulties in about 7 feet of water. He was a non-swimmer. His companion, Patrick Carroll, went to his assistance, but was gripped by the man and he too got into difficulties. John Tierney had been bathing in the vicinity and he also dived in to the rescue. He succeeded in breaking the man’s grip on Carroll and he brought the man to the shore. He then returned to help Carroll. He was joined in this rescue by Aiden Ffrench and between them they succeeded in bringing Carroll to the shore.


Bridget Potter, Lower Shantalla, Galway

On 22nd September, 1951, a three-year-old child was playing on the bank of the Eglington Canal, Galway, when he fell into the water. Another child ran to a nearby house and informed Bridget Potter of what had happened. Miss Potter immediately ran to the canal bank and dived into the water. She swam around for a while and finally she located the child at the bottom. After several attempts she succeeded in raising him and bringing him to the bank where he recovered.


Elizabeth McGavin, Drimnagh, Dublin and George Davidson, Ballyfermot, Dublin

Three children, Elizabeth McGavin and another girl and a boy, were fishing from the canal bank when the boy fell in and dragged the girl in with him. Elizabeth McGavin jumped to their rescue and managed to bring the boy to the opposite bank. Meanwhile George Davidson, who was passing by, heard the children’s cries and plunged into the water. He succeeded in bringing the girl to the bank. Mr. Davidson was in very poor health at the time and he died shortly afterwards.


Patrick Doherty, Clane, Co. Kildare

On 6th December, 1951, a man was oiling an engine which was being used by him to drive a saw. His clothes became entangled in the fast-moving flywheel spindle, and in a matter of seconds he was being swept around on the spindle. Patrick Doherty was on the scene and rushed immediately to aid him. He caught the man and endeavoured to drag him off the wheel. It was not, however, until the man’s clothing was almost completely wrenched from his body that Doherty succeeded in releasing him. Both then fell heavily to the ground.


Brendan T. Walsh, Mount Merrion, Co. Dublin

At about 11.20pm on 22nd November, 1951, when Mr. Walsh was in his home, he heard shouts and on coming outside he noticed that a nearby house was on fire. The Fire Brigade had not then arrived. Mr. Walsh got an axe and ran to the burning house, where he heard a child crying upstairs. He immediately ran up the stairs through the smoke and licking flames and into the room whence he heard the cried. He found a child in a cot in the smoke-filled room and succeeded in bringing it unharmed down the stairs to safety.


Christopher Plunkett, Skerries, Co. Dublin

On 2nd August, 1951, at about 8pm the fishing boat ‘Ros Cathal’ was returning to Loughshinny Harbour from fishing grounds off the Dublin coast. The vessel encountered heavy seas on the homeward run and as a result of a lurch which it gave a man fell overboard. The alarm was raised and those below came on deck. The vessel was swung around and a lifebuoy and line was thrown to the man but he did not catch it. Seeing this, Christopher Plunkett, despite the fact that he was a poor swimmer and the sea was rough, jumped into the sea. He grasped the lifebuoy and swam about 15 yards to the man. He caught hold of the man’s collar and both rescuer and rescued were pulled towards the vessel. The man showed no signs of life and attempts at artificial respiration failed to revive him.

Leslie Boylan, Skerries, Co. Dublin

On 29th August, 1951, a seven-year-old boy was walking along the edge of the pier wall at Skerries and fell into the sea. Leslie Boylan heard the splash in the water and saw the boy in the water. Without hesitation, he jumped into the water and went to the assistance of the boy, and managed to grasp him as he was disappearing. He then swam towards a row boat which was coming to his assistance. The boy recovered.


William Tiernan, Mountshannon, Co. Clare

On 7th November, 1951, employees of the Clare County Council were loading a lorry with barrels of tar which were lying on the quayside at Scariff. A crane which was being used to load the barrels suddenly swung around, striking a man on the jaw and knocking him in the canal. A lifebuoy was thrown to him, but he lost his grip on it after a moment or so and he went to the bottom. William Tiernan then dived into the canal and in a short time came to the surface, holding the man. Both men were pulled out of the canal by their fellow workers.


John O’Gorman, Ardfinnan, Co. Tipperary

On 5th February, 1952, a fire broke out in the kitchen of a three room thatched house in Ardfinnan. The occupant of the house, a 76-year-old man, was bedridden and in a small room off the kitchen. A neighbour saw the smoke and informed John O’Gorman who ran to the scene and found the room in which the man was lying, a mass of flames, smoke and falling timbers. O’Gorman, who was not aware of the man’s bedridden condition, threw a chain into the room and asked the man to take hold of it, but the man was unable to do so. O’Gorman then rushed in through the kitchen and bedroom doors, lifted the man from the bed and carried him outside to safety. In doing so he got his head and hair burned and gravely risked his life.


Charles Byrne, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan

At approximately 3.00pm on 3rd February, 1952, two brothers, aged 9 and 7 years, were skating on an ice-covered pool at Leonsgrave, Carrickmacross. The ice broke under the weight of the elder boy and he sank in the water to his armpits, but supported himself with his hands on the surrounding ice. The younger boy went for assistance and contacted a little girl living nearby. They both went back to the pool and the boy went on the ice and caught his brother’s hand. The ice surrounding the younger brother then broke, however, and both boys fell into the water. The little girl ran to the house of Charles Byrne, who lives about 150 yards from the pool. Mr. Byrne immediately ran to the pool and entered the cold water by breaking the ice, which was about one inch thick. He waded out almost to the centre of the pool and recovered the body of the younger brother and brought it to the bank. Artificial respiration was applied by persons who had arrived on the scene, but their efforts were unsuccessful. Immediately after getting the younger brother’s body to the bank, Mr. Byrne entered the water to search for the other body, but failed to find it.


Private Martin Keating, Collins Barracks, Dublin and James Hayes, Coolevin Road, Dublin

At about 10.10pm on 7th December, 1951, a fire broke out in a ground floor shop on Cuffe Street, Dublin. When the fire broke out, there were five people in the rooms on the first floor and six people on the second floor. When James Hayes and Private Martin Keating noticed the fire, they, together with a third person whose name is not known, went up the stairs and helped three people out of a room on the first floor. They then went back again and rescued an old couple and their grandchild from the second floor. At this stage the fire was extending to the hall. They went back in again to search for a child who they were told had not come out. Having searched all the rooms, they had to exit through a back window as the fire had made the hall unpassable.


Patrick Connaire, Drimnagh, Dublin

An eight-year-old boy and some companions were fishing in a disused reservoir at Robinhood, CLondalkin, on 17th April, 1952. The boy slipped and fell into the water. Patrick Connaire, aged 14 ½ years, who was fishing nearby heard cries for help and immediately dived in fully clothed and succeeded in bringing the drowning boy to the bank.


Nora O’Reilly, Tadhg Corkery, Seamus Lonergan, John English, Kevin Fennessey and Seán Cleary Clonmel, Co. Tipperary

On 11th March, 1952, a two-year-old child fell into the River Suir. The child’s mother, Nora O’Reilly ran to the river bank. She called for assistance and then jumped into the river herself. Hearing the cries, Tadhg Corkery ran to the spot, dived into the river and brought the child to the bank. Meanwhile, four other men arrived on the scene. One of them noticed the body of Mrs. O’Reilly floating face downwards near the opposite bank. Seamus Lonergan and John English dived into the water, swam across the river and brought back Mrs. O’Reilly’s body. They were assisted back by Kevin Fennessy, Seán Cleary and Tadhg Corkery. Mrs. O’Reilly did not recover, however.


George Stallard and John Kenny, Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary

On 24th April, 1952, an eight-year-old boy fell into the River Suir at Carrickbeg. As a result of heavy rains, there was a flood in the river at the time, and as this met the incoming tide it caused a dangerous whirlpool at the point where the boy fell in. George Stallard and John Kenny heard a cry for assistance and immediately ran to the bank and dived into the river. Stallard, who had reached the bank slightly ahead of Kenny, dived under the water and succeeded in getting hold of the boy near the bottom. On reaching the surface, they were helped to the bank by Kenny. The boy recovered after a short time.


Patrick Bedford, Blackhorse Avenue, Dublin; George Emmett, Finglas, Dublin and Joseph Edgar, Summerhill, Dublin

A man entered a manhole to remove a rubber plug from the bottom, having waited the usual period to allow any gases to escape. Shortly afterwards, Patrick Bedford went to look for him and found him in difficulties in the manhole. He went down the hole to help him but was himself completely overcome by gas fumes. George Emmett then came on the scene and heard Bedford moaning in the manhole. He wrapped a wet towel round his head and descended, taking a rope with him. He put the rope hook in Bedford’s clothes and had him hauled up. He had to come up at the same time as the fumes were overpowering him. Joseph Edgar then descended and with the help of a rope succeeded in getting the first man out.


James Farl Powers, Greystones, Co. Wicklow

On 19th May, 1952, an 8 ½-year-old boy and two other children were playing on the Cliff Road at Greystones. The boy slipped off the high precipitous rocks into the sea, which was then quite deep. His companions shouted for help and James Farl Powers, an American on a visit to this country, heard their cries. As he approached, the boy’s companions fetched a lifebuoy which Powers threw to the boy. The child was unable to catch it, however. Mr. Powers then descended the rocky face of the cliff and succeeded in pulling the drowning boy near enough to grab him by the clothes. He pulled him up on the rocks and both had to remain here until help arrived.