Citations from the 24th Annual Report of Comhairle na Míre Gaile, for the year ended 31st December, 1970




Eric Thomas Offer, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin

At about 11.30pm on 15th June, 1969, two men decided to moor two punts in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. One of the punts had an engine and towed the other punt behind it. One of the men got up and walked to the front of the punt which had an engine on it. He stumbled, fell overboard and the punt sank. He tried to get in the other punt, but that also capsized and both men were thrown into the water. One of the men tied the other to a boat and went for help. He contacted Eric Offer at the clubhouse and they both went to the quay and went out in a dinghy. While they were trying to locate the man tied to the boat, the other man, by now exhausted, fell into the water. Eric Offer managed to drag him into the dinghy and then went to the other man and helped him aboard also. The combined weight of the three men caused the dinghy to sink so Eric Offer climbed onto a motorboat and was able to take the other two men aboard.


Garda John Sheehy, Ballincollig, Co. Cork

At 5.30pm on 18th September, 1969, a 14-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl were swimming at the Men’s Strand, Ballybunion. After about 15 minutes, they decided to come ashore because of the undercurrent in the sea. They could not swim because of the waves and the strong current so they tried walking. The girl was finding it difficult to make progress so the boy went to her aid. They were both forced outwards by the undercurrent, however. An onlooker alerted the lifeguard and he swam out to the boy and, by using a lifebelt, managed to bring him back to shore. Garda Sheehy, meanwhile, had swum out to the girl and brought her ashore.


Robert Forster, Larne, Co. Antrim

On 5th April, 1969, a party of six teachers and sixteen pupils of St. Comhghall’s Secondary School, Larne, left Carrick-on-Shannon on a boating holiday in three cabin cruisers. At Athlone they were joined by a brother of one of the teachers, aged 18 years. On 11th April, as the boating party approached the Albert Lock at Lake Nonóg on the Shannon, the teacher’s brother fell overboard. A lifebelt was thrown but he failed to catch it. Mr. Robert Forster then dived in and brought the youth from under the water. The youth struggled, however, and they were both dragged under and drowned.


Lesley Andrea Henry, Donaghadee, Co. Down

At about 2.30pm on 18th July, 1969, a 13-year-old girl and her two sisters went swimming at Silver Strand, Wicklow. It was a wet day and the sea was very choppy. The girl was swept around the rocks and got into difficulties. Lesley Henry, aged 14 years, was swimming nearby and she went to help but was driven against the rocks by the waves. She then lost sight of the drowning girl. When she reappeared, Lesley tried to reach her but was again driven against the rocks. She made a further rescue attempt but was by now exhausted and was forced to abandon the rescue. A 13-year-old girl on the shore made an attempt to go out to the drowning girl but she was unable to reach her. The body of the girl was later recovered.


Rev. Michael A. Courtney, Tynagh, Co. Galway

At 7.50pm on 31st August, 1969, an 18-year-old boy went sailing on Lough Derg. He was unaccompanied. When he was about 300 yards from the shore, he leaned backwards endeavouring to balance the boat in the wind. His toe strap attached to the coat snapped and he fell in. A gust of wind overturned the boat and it sank. He shouted for help and the alarm was raised. Fr. Courtney ran to a boat which had an outboard engine and, accompanied by another man, went to the spot where the youth had sank. He dived into the lake. On the second attempt Fr. Courtney located the youth and succeeded in getting him into the boat. The youth was brought to hospital, where he recovered after treatment.


Francis Millar, Glasgow, Scotland

On 15th July, 1969, Mr. Francis Millar lost his life while attempting to rescue three children from drowning at Strandhill, Co. Sligo. The children, aged between 9 and 12 years, were paddling in the sea outside the safety area when the current and tidal backwash swept them out to sea. The lifeguard and Mr. Millar went to their assistance. The lifeguard rescued one of the girls but had considerable difficulty in getting back to shore. As a result, he was unable to enter the sea again when Mr. Millar got into difficulties. Eventually he attempted a rescue but Mr. Millar was dead when he brought him ashore. The other two children were rescued by persons on the beach.


Philip Jeremiah Kearney, Carrigohane, Co. Cork

At 8.00pm on 20th May, 1970, two sisters went to the Kearney home in Carrigohane. They wanted to try a new camera and they asked Mr. Kearney’s son, Philip, aged 10 years, to help them to get a canoe into the river as they wanted him to photograph them together in the canoe. The two girls were in the canoe and Philip was standing on the jetty with the camera when the canoe overturned. The girls were non-swimmers and were struggling in the water. Philip shouted at them to grab the canoe but it drifted away from them. He then jumped into the water and brought the canoe back to them. One of the girls caught hold of him and pulled him under. He managed to get free and swam to the shore for assistance. He telephoned his father who arrived in a short time. However, it was not until 11.00pm that the bodies were recovered by skin divers.


Tomás de Breit, Páirc na Trá Báine, Gaillimh

On the evening of 6th June, 1970, a 6-year-old boy, who was playing with three other children, fell into the Eglington Canal, Galway. Tomás de Breit was passing by and the other children told him what had happened. He jumped into the canal. The water was very black and he could not locate the child. He kept going deeper, but was caught in a current and sucked down under the sluice gate. He managed to free himself and he came out at the far side, about 20 yards down. He came to the surface and swam to the side of the canal. Someone showed him where there was a ladder and he climbed out. The boy’s body was subsequently taken from the canal and brought to hospital. The child resumed spontaneous breathing and a good circulation after resuscitation, but he died the following day.


James O’Keefe, Mayor’s Walk, Waterford; Redmond Holloway, Sandymount, Dublin 4 and David Kenny, Tramore, Co. Waterford

At about 4pm on 21st June, 1970, a 21-year-old woman was swimming about 150 yards offshore at Annestown, Co. Waterford, when she got into difficulties and was unable to get ashore due to a strong current. She called for assistance and James O’Keefe swam out to help her. He held on to her but they could not make any headway against the current so they swam to a nearby rock and shouted for assistance. The woman’s brother swam out to the rock with a lifebelt, but he too was unable to swim back against the current. By this stage, fears were growing for the lives of the three people as the rock would be completely submerged within 15 or 20 minutes. Just at this time, about 5.50pm, David Kenny and Redmond Holloway swam out to the people with a long rope. They attached the rope to the rock and the three stranded persons were then positioned along the rope. All five were pulled ashore by people holding the rope on the shore.


Daniel Jordan, Cobh, Co. Cork

On 26th August, 1970, Daniel Jordan was entering the gate leading to the North German Lloyd Pier at Cobh when he noticed a small child on the Pier edge. He warned the child to come away from the edge. As he walked away, he heard dogs fighting and on turning around he saw one of the dogs knock the child into the water. He dived into the water and swam to the child who was about 12 feet out. He caught hold of the child but was unable to swim because the tide was too strong against him. He succeeded in catching hold of one of the pylons and shouted for a lifebelt. A lifebelt was thrown to him and Daniel Jordan and the child were pulled from the river.


James McSweeney, Langford Row, Cork

At about 11pm on 26th July, 1970, James McSweeney was standing on the bridge at Bachelor’s Quay, Cork, when he saw a man falling into the river. He jumped in after him and brought the man to the ladder. He held him there until a man threw in a lifebuoy. The rope broke and the man threw in another lifebuoy. The rope broke again and a third lifebuoy had to be procured in order to get the man out of the water.


Kevin Brennan, Navan Road, Dublin 7

On 25th Spetember, 1970, a woman got into difficulties while swimming at Ballybunion, Co. Kerry. Kevin Brennan went to her assistance. She held onto him and he began to swim back to the beach. They were making very slow headway as the current was very strong. They had gone about one-third of the distance to the beach when the lifeguard came out to help them. They were not making much headway back to shore so they decided to swim to the rocks. They were helped on to the rocks by a number of people who had gathered at the scene.