Citations from the 15th Annual Report of Comhairle na Míre Gaile, for the year ended 31st December, 1961




Thomas Kane, North Cumberland Street, Dublin

At about 9pm on 24th July, 1960, a man jumped into the Liffey near Custom House Quay. Thomas Kane, who was on the steps of the Custom House, heard the commotion and ran to the quay wall. He dived into the water and swam to the rescue. The man was floating on his back and crying for help. When Mr. Kane reached him, he caught him from the back and swam with him towards the steps. When they were halfway back, a lifebuoy was thrown to them and they were pulled to safety. The rescued man was brought to hospital.


Garda John Acton, Bray, Co. Wicklow; Frank Lynch, Bray, Co. Wicklow and William Herbert Clay, Derriaghy, Co. Antrim

On 10th July, 1960, a schoolgirl went bathing off the Promenade near the Baths in Bray. She attempted to swim to the diving board but, realising she could not reach it, she turned to swim back to shore. The sea was too strong, however, and she found herself being carried away so she shouted for help. Mr. Clay saw what was happening and dived in to help but he too got into difficulties. Mr. Lynch also dived in and he swam out to the rescue. When he reached the girl, she put her hands around his neck and he tried to swim back with her. By this time, Garda Acton had come on the scene with a lifebuoy. He gave the lifebuoy to Mr. Lynch who was holding up the girl. Garda Acton then went to Mr. Clay’s assistance. Mr. Lynch and the Garda held onto the lifebuoy and a man on the shore hauled them in.


Patrick Madden, New Ross, Co. Wexford

On 10th October, 1960, two men were in a rowing boat in the River Barrow. The boat capsized and both men were thrown into the water. One was unable to swim and he held on to the upturned boat. The other man tried to swam ashore but became exhausted and sank. Mr. Madden was walking along the road parallel to the river and when he heard a call for help he ran to the river. He dived into the water and as soon as he got within speaking distance of the drowning man he encouraged him to hold on and advised him to float on his back. The man disappeared under the water, however. Mr. Madden dived repeatedly in the hope of locating the man but could not find him. He remained in the water until he was exhausted and was towed ashore by people in a small boat, who had by then rescued the other man.


Garda John O’Connor, Store Street Station, Dublin

At about 11.25pm on 19th January, 1961, while Garda John O’Connor and another Garda were patrolling along Eden Quay in a car, they heard a youth shout that there was a woman in the Liffey. The Gardaí went to the Quay wall and saw a body in the water floating towards Butt Bridge. Garda O’Connor immediately jumped into the water and swam out to the woman whom he caught and brought to the Quay wall. The other Garda threw a lifebuoy with which Garda O’Connor supported himself and the woman until the arrival of the Fire Brigade officers who lowered a ladder to them. The woman was pulled up to the Quay and Garda O’Connor climbed up behind her.


Rev. Louis O’Sullivan, Killarney Street, Dublin

At about 4.30pm on 8th March, 1961, an elderly woman who was suffering from bad sight was sitting on the Pier at Howth. She rose from her seat and walked to the Pier’s edge without knowing where she was going and fell into the water. Rev. Louis O’Sullivan saw what happened and he jumped into the water after her. He saw a lifebuoy in the water about 7 feet from the woman, and, catching hold of her, swam towards it. The woman held onto the lifebuoy while Father O’Sullivan swam and pushed it at the same time to the iron steps about 15 yards distant. There with the help of others the woman was brought to safety.


Alban Foley, New Street, Limerick; Kathleen Campbell, North Circular Road, Limerick and Deirdre Galvin, O’Connell Street, Limerick

At about 5.30pm on 11th May, 1961, a 9-year-old boy who had been fishing at Barrington’s Pier, Limerick, slipped and fell into the river. He shouted for help. Mr. Alban Foley, aged 73 years, was in the vicinity and he jumped into the river and caught hold of the boy. Both were carried out from the pier by the strong tide. Miss Deirdre Gavin, aged 16 years, heard the cries for help and she dived to the rescue. She swam towards the drowning pair but the current proved too strong for her and as she is not a strong swimmer she had to turn back. Kathleen Campbell, aged 17 years, then swam out to help. She caught a grip of the man and held him up for some time but she became exhausted and had to release her hold. The boy had disappeared in the meantime. Miss Campbell managed to swim back to the pier safely, but in an exhausted condition. Three men rushed to a rowing boat which was chained to a cement bench nearby. One of them got a hatchet, severed the chain and the boat was launched. By the time all this had been done, there was no sign of the man or boy. Both bodies were recovered from the river the next day.


Thomas Corcoran, Lower Glanmire Road, Cork and Charles Wilkins, Assumption Road, Cork

At about 7.30pm on 25th May, 1960, two young girls were in a dinghy on the River Lee. The dinghy capsized and the two girls were thrown into the water. Mr. Corcoran was in his house at the time and when he was told what happened, he ran from his house down to the river. He saw one girl floating, apparently unconscious, and the other struggling in the water. He dived in and went to the assistance of the girl who was struggling. He brought her alongside a moored boat but failed to get her onto it as she was quite hysterical and refused to release her hold on him. For this reason, he was unable to go to the rescue of the second girl. Mr. Wilkins had in the meantime been told of the incident and he rushed to the river and dived in the water. He dived under the water and brought the second girl to the surface. An onlooker threw him a lifebuoy and he used this to help him get the girl up to the footpath where he applied artificial respiration. The girl was then taken to hospital. In the meantime, the lifebuoy was thrown to Mr. Corcoran and the other girl, and they were pulled to safety.

Joseph A. Quirke, Sutton, Dublin and Garda John Oliver Nealon, Howth Garda Station, Dublin

At about 3.30pm on 3rd June, 1961, a man with his nephew and another boy travelled to Howth for the purpose of locating a cormorant’s nest in the vicinity of Casana Rock. Once they reached the correct spot, the man started to climb down a cliff to the bird’s nest. He intended to take an egg and the boys were going to lower a camera to him so he could take a picture of the nest. When he had gone down about 6 or 7 feet, he took a little jump to get down further, but he slipped and fell down to the bottom. One of the boys went to find help and he met Mr. Quirke and told him what happened. Mr. Quirke sent the boy on and went to the cliff. He climbed down and found the man wedged between rocks about 10 feet above water level. He was badly injured in the head. Mr. Quirke was then joined by Garda Nealon. The lifeboat from Howth came around the point of the cliff at this time and Garda Nealon signalled to it. A punt was lowered from the lifeboat and the crew of the lifeboat got the man on the boat. When he was brought to the West Pier, Howth, a doctor examined the body and found him to be dead.


George O’Connell, Curragh Road, Cork; Timothy Hanrahan, S.C. Road, Limerick and Barry Prendergast, Farranshone, Limerick

On the afternoon of 26th June, 1961, an 8-year-old boy went to bathe in the sea at Ballybunion, Co. Kerry. He was wearing a rubber lifebelt around his waist. The sea was rough at the time and the boy was carried out. Holidaymakers on the strand raised the alarm and two men and a schoolboy went to the rescue. Mr. Hanrahan went out first and he caught hold of the boy and headed back to shore. He was met by Mr. O’Connell who took the boy and after a little difficulty succeeded in bringing the by ashore with the assistance of Barry Prendergast. Mr. Hanrahan was in an exhausted condition after handing the boy to Mr. O’Connell and he decided to swim towards the cliffs. He got into difficulties there and was dashed against the cliffs several times. Barry Prendergast saw his plight and swam out to him. Mr. Hanrahan jumped from the rocks into the sea and Prendergast helped him ashore.


John Nolan and Desmond Leech, Kinvara, Co. Galway

At about 3.30pm on 11th June, 1961, a youth went for a swim in the sea at the Quay, Kinvara. He swam out about 15 yards but when he turned to come back he got into difficulties. He sank and when he surfaced he began to splash and shout for help. One of the boys on the Pier at the time, John Nolan, went to the rescue. He had great difficulty in catching hold of the boy who kept turning and struggling in the water and had gone under twice before Nolan caught him. Desmond Leech then jumped in and went to Nolan’s assistance. The two rescuers succeeded in keeping the boy afloat until a lifebuoy was thrown and they were pulled to the Pier.


Edward Leahy, Mary Street, Waterford and Daniel Waters, Ferrybank, Waterford

At about 8pm on 1st July, 1961, a 4-year-old boy fell into the water from the quayside opposite the Bridge Hotel, Waterford. When Edward Leahy and Daniel Waters arrived on the scene, they dived in and swam to the boy. Mr. Waters reached the child first and put his left hand under the back of the child’s head. On the way back to the quayside, he was met by Mr. Leahy who assisted in bringing the child back. A lifebuoy was thrown and they tried to hoist the child up but the lifebuoy broke. Mr. Leahy then held the child aloft and a person on the bank took the child from him. The child recovered quickly and showed little effects of his ordeal in the river.


Raymond Wrynn, Dungourney, Co. Cork

At about 3.30pm on 9th May, 1961, a farmer of Clonmult, Dungourney, led a 3-year-old mare, with a cart attached, from a field to a public road. While the farmer was closing the field gate, the animal bolted and careered across the road. Eight boys were walking home from school and they saw the animal approaching them. One of them, Raymond Wrynn, aged 12 years, confronted the animal and tried to stop it, He did not succeed but his action diverted the mare to an entrance to a farmhouse. Raymond Wrynn ran after it, caught the reins and held the mare.


Robert Spencer, Ballycotton, Co. Cork

At about 8pm on 28th June, 1961, four boys of ages ranging from 17 to 7 years went down to the Breakwater, Ballycotton. The youngest boy accidentally fell into the water, Robert Spencer, the eldest of the group, immediately jumped to the rescue. Spencer caught hold of the boy and managed to swim with him to the nearby wall where he held on until both of them were rescued by two men in a boat.


Donnchadh Ó Murchadha, Blarney Street, Cork and Joseph Holbrook, Ballyphehane, Cork

On the afternoon of 26th June, 1960, two men took a ten-foot Yacht’s Dinghy to the lake at Inniscarra on the River Lee Hydro Electric Power Scheme. They made a circuit of the lake and they spotted an Alsatian dog on the shore. One of the men tried to induce the dog to swim to the boat. He stood up to do this and the boat tilted over, throwing both men in the water. One of the men could swim but the other couldn’t. The swimmer made his way around the boat to his companion. The two men were seen to struggle in the water in the course of which one man went under and did not resurface. The other man floated on the surface face downwards. Mr. Ó Murhcadha attempted to swim out a couple of times. He had a rope which was being held by a man on the shore but he became exhausted and had to return. Mr. Holbrook then arrived on the scene and he swam to the men. A boat had arrived by then and Mr. Holbrook went out to it. The bodies of the two men were located and artificial respiration was carried out, but without success.


Michael O’Flynn, Cappamore, Co. Limerick

At about 3pm on 4th July, 1961, Michael O’Flynn, aged 15 years, went to the Bilboa River near Blackboy Bridge, Cappamore, for a swim. There were several boys and girls his own age around the Bridge and 5 or 6 girls swimming in the river. When he arrived a girl on the bank told him that another girl was drowning and she dived in to help. O’Flynn saw the drowning girl catch hold of her would-be rescuer and the two girls disappeared under the water. He dived to their assistance and brought both girls to safety.



Garda John Corcoran, Barrack Street Station, Cork City

In the early morning of 17th May, 1961, Garda Corcoran and another Garda were driving a patrol car in Cork City when they received message that a man had been seen on the roof of a house at Lavitt’s Quay, Cork. When they arrived a crowd had gathered and the man was shouting loudly and threatening to jump. Garda Corcoran spoke to the man and calmed him down. He held him in conversation while the Fire Brigade was being contacted. A ladder was procured but the Firemen decided it would be too dangerous to take the man in such a condition down by this means. Garda Corcoran volunteered to ascend the ladder. He went up and by persuasion and moderate force got the man on the ladder. Gradually, step by step, he descended with the man, who at times shook the ladder violently. It took about 10 minutes to bring the man down.


Matthew Dowling, Chapelizod, Co. Dublin

At about 4.25pm on 14th June, 1961, while Matthew Dowling was travelling on a bus along the Northern quays, he saw a man floundering in the Liffey on the South side near Queen Street Bridge. He immediately got off the bus and ran towards the bridge. He secured a lifebuoy and descended a ladder to the water. While the rope of the lifebuoy was being held by a man on the quay wall, Mr. Dowling swam out to the centre of the river. The man went under water and Mr. Dowling dived and searched for him. He resurfaced and the man on the quay directed him to where he saw bubbles in the water. Mr. Dowling reached underwater and caught the man’s collar. He brought him to the quay where artificial respiration was applied until an ambulance arrived. On examination in hospital the man was found to be dead.


Thomas Joseph O’Driscoll, Slough, England

At about 6pm on 20th August, 1961, a 16-year-old was out in a canoe in Castletownsend Harbour. While about 20 yards from the harbour the canoe overturned and the youth was thrown out. The youth kept a hold on the canoe but as the sea was rough he went under with the canoe a few times and came up again according to how the canoe would turn. Thomas O’Driscoll, aged 14 years, saw the youth in difficulties and jumped into the first boat he saw. There were no oars in the boat, however, so he dived into the water and propelled the boat with one hand. When he reached the youth, O’Driscoll got into the boat and pulled the youth in with him. In the meantime, another boat had come out to their assistance and they were pulled to the quayside.


Thomas McCarthy, Ballyphehane, Cork; Brian Gerard Calnan, Rosscarbery, Co. Cork and Laurence Murphy, Rosscarbery, Co. Cork

At about 7.30pm on 15th July, 1961, eight children (six boys and two girls), whose ages ranged from 8 to 12 years, left Rosscarbery village and went in the direction of English Island. They found a small boat moored at English Island and some of them suggested taking it out in the water. With the exception of one boy, all the children got into the boat and propelled it forward with sticks. When about 20 yards from the shore, it sprang a leak and the children panicked. A passing motorist got out and tried to reassure the children from the shore. He told them he was going for assistance and left his wife to console them. When he left, the children became hysterical and the boat overturned, throwing the children into the sea. The motorist’s wife stopped a passing lorry and the driver, Mr. McCarthy, went into the water and rescued a girl. Mr. Murphy and Mr. Calnan also arrived on the scene. Mr. McCarthy developed a cramp and could not return to the water. Mr. Murphy and Mr. Calnan swam out and placed three of the boys on the upturned boat. Mr. Murphy found another boy floating in the water and placed him on the boat also. This child died later. They held on to the boat until a man came with a rope and the boat was hauled to shore. Two of the children were still missing and a search was begun. Their bodies were recovered about an hour later.


James Clare and James Lynch, Crumlin, Dublin

Between 2 and 3pm on 24th July, 1961, an 11-year-old boy went swimming with a number of other boys in a quarry pond off Kimmage Road West, Crumlin. The boy had his terrier dog with him. There was a stick floating in the water on the far side of the pond and, as he was a good swimmer, the other boys asked him to go in and retrieve it. He went in and the dog followed him. When about three quarters of the way there, he got into difficulties and shouted for help. The dog jumped on his back and he began to sink. James Clare went to his aid and succeeded in pulling the boy away from the weeds which were dragging him down. During this time the dog was swimming around them and hindered Clare in his rescue attempt with the result that the boy slipped from his grasp. James Lynch dived into the water to help them. He dived several times but was unable to locate the boy. The body was recovered the next day.


Laurence Dolan, Howth, Co. Dublin

At about 4.15pm on 23rd September, 1961, a Garda Sergeant went to a bathing place with his two young sons. He saw some clothes on the step but could not see anyone who they might belong to. He went to the nearby poo and talked to three men there. One of them, Laurence Dolan, went to the rocks near Kilcarraig House, Kilrock Road, to see if he could observe any person in the sea. He saw a man in the water about half a mile from the shore. He entered the water and swam to the man. He found the man floating on his back apparently unconscious. He brought him back to the shore and the Sergeant Garda and the two other men helped him bring the man out of the water. Artificial respiration was applied to the man but he did not regain consciousness until later when he was brought to Jervis Street Hospital.


Thomas O’Neill, Spangle Hill, Cork City

At about 8.15pm on 16th April, 1961, Mr. O’Neill was crossing from Patrick Street to Patrick’s Bridge, Cork, when he noticed a number of people on the bridge looking into the water. There was a man in the River Lee and Mr. O’Neill dived in. He swam towards the man who was struggling in the water. Mr. O’Neill brought the man to the quay wall where they were hauled out of the water.


Donald Dowling, Cabra West, Dublin

At about 9m on 22nd July, 1961, a 14-year-old boy was swimming with a number of others in the River Liffey at Arran Quay when he became weak in the water. The alarm was raised Donald Dowling went to the river wall and saw the boy in the water. He dived into the river and the boy caught hold of him. He managed to swim with the boy to the Liffey wall and someone then threw a lifebuoy. He put the boy on the lifebuoy and went to the steps. At the steps a man came down and took the boy from him.


Captain Martin Lohan, Loughrea, Co. Galway

At about 4pm on 28th August, 1961, a 10-year-old girl was bathing in the sea at Bundoran Strand. The place where she was bathing is quite dangerous with an isolated rock formation known as Roguey which projects into the sea for hundreds of yards. The girl, a non-swimmer, was engulfed by an incoming wave and she became partly unconscious. Captain Lohan was bathing nearby and when he saw the big wave and then a hand raised above the water about 50 to 80 feet from Roguey, he realised she was in difficulties. He swam to her but he could not bring her to the shore as the current and the rough sea were too strong for him. He swam to the rocks instead and was helped ashore. The girl was removed to hospital.


Derek Stuart, Pigeon House Road, Dublin

At about 11am on 23rd September, 1961, while securing the S.S. Glencree, a Gas Company collier, in Ringsend Basin, a man was knocked into the water when the boat lurched. As he was falling, he struck his head off another collier. He was stunned and lay face downwards in the water. Derek Stuart was working on the S.S. Glencree at the time and he jumped into the water. He grasped the man and held him above the water until help came and they were hauled to safety.


Edward Benn, Ballynantybeg, Limerick

At about 6.30pm on 26th August, 1961, an elderly man sat on the parapet of Thomond Bridge, Limerick City. Shortly afterwards two boys saw him slip off the bridge and fall into the Shannon. The boys raised the alarm and Mr. Benn jumped into the water. He swam to the man and brought him to the steps. Someone threw a lifebuoy and they were hauled to safety. Artificial respiration was tried on the man for some time but he did not respond.


Thomas Dempsey, North Wall, Dublin

At about 5.45pm on 9th September, 1961, a youth was cycling along George’s Quay. He saw a boy fishing in front of him. Swerving to avoid the boy, the cyclist skidded and fell in the river. Three boys saw what happened and ran to the spot. One of the boys, Thomas Dempsey, aged 16 years, dived in and swam towards the youth. When he caught hold of the drowning youth, the latter struggled with him and pulled his rescuer under the water twice. A lifebuoy was thrown to them and Dempsey put it over the youth’s head. The two of them were pulled into the ladder at the Quay Wall. The youth and Dempsey climbed up the ladder to safety.