Citations from the 22nd and 23rd Annual Reports of Comhairle na Míre Gaile, for the years ended 31st December, 1968 and 31st December, 1969
John O’Brien, Sunday’s Well, Cork
At about 1.45pm on 27th July, 1967, a 13-year-old boy was fishing on the ferry slip at Market Dock, Youghal, when he slipped and fell into the water. The boy was unable to swim and he was carried out to sea. Mr. John O’Brien ran to the ferry slip and threw his coat in the boy’s direction. The boy, however, was unable to grasp it so Mr. O’Brien removed his shoes and dived into the water. He swam a distance of about 15 yards towards the boy. He succeeded in bringing the boy to the safety of a boat moored about 30 yards away. They boy’s father then lifted his son into the boat.
Brian Mordaunt, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary
At around noon on 14th October, 1967, a 6-year-old boy fell into the River Suir at the Quay, Clonmel. His friend raised the alarm. Several passers-by rushed to the bank, but their attempts to throw a lifebuoy to the boy were unsuccessful. The boy was swept downstream and under the Gas House Bridge, about 200 feet from the steps where he had fallen in. Brian Mordaunt then arrived on the scene and dived into the river. He swam to the boy and caught hold of him. Both were swept downstream for some distance until Mr. Mordaunt caught hold of the lifebuoy and was pulled to safety. The boy was unconscious when brought from the water but he responded to artificial respiration and made a full recovery.
Katherine Cambridge, Spike Island
At about 2.30pm on 30th September, 1967, a 5-year-old boy fell off the slipway at John F. Kennedy Pier, Cobh, Co. Cork. His companions raised the alarm. Two or three minutes later, a passenger launch from Spike Island drew up alongside the pier. Katherine Cambridge was on board and when she saw the drowning child, she jumped into the water and swam to his rescue. The child was brought up the slipway with the assistance of man who came to help. A passer-by applied artificial respiration to the child who responded to the treatment. He was then brought to hospital where he made a full recovery.
Sylvester Keogh, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14
At about 9.40am on 23rd November, 1967, a man entered a compartment of a 3000-gallon tank, which was being constructed at the time, in order to test it for leaks from adjoining compartments. He was overcome by fumes of argon gas which had apparently escaped into the compartment overnight. Two men saw the first man lying on the floor of the compartment a few minutes later but when they went to help, they were also overcome by the fumes. A few minutes later, Sylvester Keogh arrived on the scene. He squeezed head first through the aperture of the compartment and passed the unconscious man out through the gap to men waiting on the other side. The three men were taken to hospital. The first man in the compartment died but the other two recovered.
Raymond Mullane and Anthony Depuis, Passage West, Co. Cork
At about 4.45pm on 4th February, 1968, a man was driving his car down Church Hill, Passage West, when the brakes failed. The car ran out of control and into the River Lee. There were four other passengers in the car, aged between 2 and 18 years. Raymond Mullane and Anthony Depuis saw the car go into the water and they ran to the river’s edge. Raymond Mullane dived in and, when the driver floated to the surface, he caught hold of him and supported him in the water. Meanwhile, Anthony Depuis climbed down nearby steps and swam towards them. He helped to keep the man afloat until a lifebuoy was thrown to them. They held the lifebuoy but the rope broke while it was being pulled to the quay wall. Depuis and Mullane succeeded in getting the man ashore. The man was brought to hospital and recovered. All the other occupants of the car were drowned.
Edward Deane, Midleton, Co. Cork
At about 5pm on 27th May, 1968, two men, both aged 60 years, were returning from a fishing trip in Inch Bay, Co. Cork, on board a flat-bottomed boat. When the boat was about 300 yards from the shore, the engine failed. One of the men used oars to endeavour to guide the boat away from dangerous rocks which were nearby. However, the boat overturned and one of the men, a non-swimmer, disappeared in a very short time. On hearing of the incident, Edward Deane rushed to the strand. He tried to launch a boat but failed due to the sea conditions. He instead obtained a lifebuoy and swam out to the man and brought him ashore. The man died two hours later, despite the immediate application of artificial respiration.
Herbert Radford, Cromcastle Park, Dublin 5
At about 8.15am on 8th July, 1968, Herbert Radford was alighting from a bus at Eden Quay, Dublin, when he noticed a splash in the river and saw a man in the water. He ran across O’Connell Bridge to Burgh Quay accompanied by another man whose name is unknown. Mr. Radford jumped into the river and held the drowning man afloat. The other man on the quay threw a lifebuoy into the water. Mr. Radford held on to the lifebuoy until the fire brigade arrived. A ladder was lowered into the water and an officer of the fire brigade descended. With the assistance of Mr. Radford, the fireman tied a rope around the drowning man and they both then carried him up the ladder.
Rev. Bro. Michael Donnelly, Marino, Dublin 3
At 1.45pm on 8th August, 1968, a man went swimming alone at The Men’s Bathing Place, just north of the South Beach, Greystones. At that time the sea was exceedingly rough. After a while, a man who was fishing from the nearby rocks noticed that the man in the sea was in trouble and he raised the alarm. All the people in the immediate vicinity were non-swimmers so they rang the Gardaí. On the way to the beach, the Gardaí met some Christian Brothers. Three of the Brothers went to the beach and Brother Michel Donnelly swam out 40 yards to where the man was floating. He commenced to tow the man back to shore but a large wave submerged the pair and they became separated. The two other Brothers had ropes fastened around their waists and they went out to the man at this stage and brought him in. Brother Donnelly had some difficulty in making his way back to shore but, with the aid of a rope and a Garda who had waded into the water, he got to safety. The other two Brothers also had to be helped ashore. The man who they had gone out to rescue died, despite the application of artificial respiration.
Martin Cantillion, Carrigaline, Co. Cork
At about 5.45pm on 28th July, 1968, a family went swimming at Scott’s Strand, Coolmain, Co. Cork. There is a channel between this strand and Harbour View, Kilbrittan, and when the tide is flowing a very strong current runs up this channel. Not knowing how dangerous this spot is, the father and his two daughters, aged 12 and 13 years, went swimming. After a few minutes, the two girls were being swept up the channel towards a whirlpool. Martin Cantillon and the girls’ father dived into the water and rescued the two girls.
Thomas Gibbons, Killaloe, Co. Clare
At about 4.30pm on 20th August, 1968, Thomas Gibbons, aged 12 years, was swimming with two companions in the canal at Killaloe. They swam across the canal and on the way back one of the boys got into difficulties. He went under the water but quickly surfaced and pulled Thomas Gibbons under. Gibbons failed to break his grip on him and when they resurfaced he shouted to his brother and some other children to get a lifebelt. They sank under again and this time Thomas Gibbons succeeded in breaking his hold and brought him to a nearby slipway and to safety.
Ivy Eales, Glamorgan, Wales
On 18th October, 1968, Miss Ivy Eales was one of three passengers on board a barge-type boat, piloted by her uncle, which set out from Castletownbere, Co. Cork, at about 7.15pm. When they had travelled for about 10 minutes one of the passengers fell overboard. Miss Eales threw a lifebelt while the boatman turned the barge around. Miss Eales jumped into the water and swam to the man, who had a firm grip on the lifebelt. She kept his head above water until the barge came around and then clung to the side of the boat. The boatman and the passenger tried to lift the man aboard, but could not. The boat drifted slowly towards the mainland, taking about an hour to reach the shore. For most of this hour, Miss Eales was in the water and was eventually helped on board the boat in an exhausted condition. Artificial respiration was applied to the man and he was taken to hospital but was found to be dead on admission.
The crew of the Castletownbere trawler ‘Ard Béara’
Having been alerted that the fishing trawler ‘Seaflower’ was in distress ar Ardgroom Harbour, Co. Cork, the trawler ‘Ard Béara’ left Castletownbere Pier at around 2.00am on 22nd December 1968. At about the same time, the Valentia Lifeboat also headed for Ardgroom. Conditions were very bad at the time, with gale-force winds and extremely poor visibility. The two boats reached the area at about 5.45am and commenced searching. The lights of the ‘Seaflower’ were no longer visible. At daybreak some wreckage from the ‘Seaflower’ was picked up by the two boats. The crew of the ‘Ard Béara’ eventually put into Sneem Pier at 1pm on 22nd December. The lifeboat continued to search for bodies and only put into Sneem at 6.05pm when the crew had been informed that all five bodies had washed ashore.
Patrick Hendrick, New Ross, Co. Wexford
Between 7.30pm and 8.00pm on 29th May, 1969, a 10-year-old boy fell into the River Barrow at the Quay, New Ross. Patrick Hendrick was fishing at the same quay and when he heard the splash, he looked around and saw the boy in the water. He jumped into the river, caught the boy and brought him to the surface. He then brought him to the quay wall at the steps but the boy struggled, got his feet against the wall and pushed both of them further out into the water. The boy panicked and pulled Patrick Hendrick under twice. A lifebelt was thrown to them, and with its assistance, Mr. Hendrick succeeded in getting the boy ashore.
John Synott, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny
At about 6.00pm on 13th May, 1969, an 11-year-old boy fell into the River Nore at the Quay, Thomastown. When John Synott, aged 12 years, heard of what had happened he ran to the bank. John’s father threw out a plank to the boy in the river. There is a minor whirlpool at the spot and the boy was dragged underwater twice before the plank was thrown to him. John Synott then dived into the water and swam to the boy. He held him up by the neck and chin and brought him about 20 feet to a sandbank.
Superintendent S. Fanning and Garda K. Gunning, Kildare Garda Station; Robert Murray, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin and Denis Conlon, Kildare
At about 10.20am on 8th February, 1969, a woman left her four young children – one boy aged 3 years and three girls aged 2 years, 19 months and 6 months – alone in her home while she was shopping. All the children were in the front room when she left. A fire was burning in a range in the same room. At about 10.30am, a neighbour noticed smoke coming from the house and, when she went to the house, the front room was ablaze. She raised the alarm, and the Fire Brigade and the Gardaí were notified. A crowd was gathering at the house and one man brought the eldest child to safety from the back room of the house. Superintendent Fanning and Garda Gunning arrived soon afterwards with other Gardaí. All the Gardaí and two civilians, Robert Murray and Denis Conlon, entered the back room. They attempted to fight the fire with a fire extinguisher and buckets of water. The heat and smoke were so intense that no one could stay in the room for very long. Superintendent Fanning, Garda Gunning, Mr. Conlon and Mr. Murray all remained in the room until they were exhausted and returned on numerous occasions after they had recovered outside. Superintendent Fanning made several attempts to reach the attic in the mistaken belief that some of the children were up there. Garda Gunning made a search of the entire floor area on his hands and knees and was able to locate the second eldest child and bring her to safety. The Fire Brigade arrived and extinguished the fire, but the two youngest children did not survive.
Michael Rowan, Athy, Co. Kildare
At about 4pm on a Friday early in September, 1968, some young children were playing on the bank of the River Barrow where the Grand Canal flows into it. One of the children, aged 7 years, fell into the river. Michael Rowan was in a boat about 150 yards from the children. When he heard shouting, he jumped onto the bank and ran to them. Once he was told what had happened, he jumped into the water and swam to where he thought the boy had gone underwater. He could not see the boy but groped with his hands until he located him. He brought him to the surface and then to the river bank. A man on the bank applied artificial respiration and the child responded after a few minutes.
Michael Hennessy, Youghal, Co. Cork
At approximately 6.30pm on 20th May, 1969, a 6-year-old boy was playing on the edge of Nelson’s Quay, Youghal, when he fell into the water. He was unable to swim and began to struggle as he floated seawards. Michael Hennessy was nearby and, when he heard the boy crying, he ran to the edge of the quay and jumped in the water. He grabbed the boy and turned him over on his back. He tried to swim towards a ladder set in the quay wall but was unable to do so because of the tide. He then tried to swim to a ferry which was about 18 yards away. However, his rubber boots were dragging him underwater and he kicked one of them off. He then swam to the slip and they were assisted from the water. An onlooker applied artificial respiration to the boy and he soon revived.