Citations from the 25th and 26th Annual Reports of Comhairle na Míre Gaile, for the years ended 31st December, 1971 and 31st December, 1972




Peter Hand, Listowel, Co. Kerry

On 13th May, 1969, a man got into difficulties while swimming at Beenbawn, Dingle, Co. Kerry. He shouted for help and the man who heard his call alerted Peter Hand. Mr. Hand swam out to the man who was about 50 yards from the shore. Mr. Hand tried to push the man, who was exhausted, back to shore while at the same time avoiding nearby rocks. After a short time, another man came to his aid and they succeeded in getting the man ashore.


Eileen Coughlan, Clontarf, Dublin 3

On the afternoon of 9th July, 1970, an 18-year-old girl was on an airbed in the sea off Cruit Island, Co. Donegal, when the receding tide and a strong wind swept her out to sea. The alarm was raised and Eileen Coughlan, aged 18 years, ran down the embankment and entered the water. She swam to the girl and tried to calm her down. She told her to hold on to the airbed and kick her feet. Miss Coughlan then caught hold of the airbed and after a struggle brought the girl ashore.


James Sutherland, Ferbane, Co. Offaly

On 5th January, 1969, James Sutherland, aged 13 years, was playing on the bank of the River Brosna with his brother and another boy, aged 9 years. The 9-year-old boy slipped and fell into the river. He couldn’t swim and was carried out by the current. James Sutherland jumped into the water and held onto him while his brother ran for a lifebelt. With the aid of the lifebelt, James Sutherland brought the boy to shore.


John A. Dowling, Fairview Strand, Dublin 3

At about 11.40pm on 9th October, 1970, two Gardaí on duty heard somebody shout that a man had fallen into the Liffey at Eden Quay. They went to the quay wall where they saw a man floating in the water. They threw on a lifebuoy but the man did not attempt to catch it. A man jumped into the water at this time, but he lost sight of the drowning man and had to be helped from the water. While he was in the river another man, John Dowling, entered the water. He swam to where he had seen the drowning man go under and dived under twice in an attempt to catch him. He succeeded but was unable to hold him. He continued to search for some time but failed to locate the man again. The body of the deceased man was taken from the river a few days later.




Dr. Louis Courtney, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary

On the night of 15th/16th August, 1970, a 20-year-old man was asleep in his houseboat which was moored at Goose Island, 70 yards across Lough Derg. He was awakened by a strong gale and when he realised his houseboat was in danger, he decided to seek help. He waved his shirt for some time and let off a flare. A number of people had gathered on the quayside and were considering launching a boat. The local Garda Sergeant considered it too dangerous to launch a boat or for anyone to swim across. Meanwhile, Dr. Louis Courtney started swimming towards the houseboat. When he was nearing it, the youth threw a lifebelt and pulled him aboard. Dr. Courtney succeeded in bringing him ashore in a rowing boat.


Donal and Nicola Robertson, Cheshire, England; Roy John Page, Clapton, England and Noel Waddy, Goleen, Co. Cork

At about midday on 3rd September, 1970, a husband and wife got into difficulties while swimming at Barley Cove, Goleen. Their cries for help were heard by holidaymakers on the beach and Roy John age, an elderly man, immediately plunged into the sea. He became exhausted before he could reach them but he shouted encouragement. Mrs. Nicola Robertson then swam out to them. She was followed by her husband, Donal, who brought a lifebelt which they succeeded in putting on the woman in the water. They managed to pull her ashore with the help of Noel Waddy. Mr. Waddy returned into the sea to search for the husband and after about 45 minutes he found the body. Artificial respiration was applied but without success.


Joseph Byrne and Garda John Mullins, Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow

On 15th October, 1970, a 19-year-old man who was working at the bottom of a 40-foot well shaft was overcome by gelignite fumes. A local Fire Brigade Officer, who had descended the shaft, tied a rope around him but he was also overcome by fumes and collapsed. Garda John Mullins was called to the scene and he entered the well. He was overcome by fumes after descending about 20 feet and had to return to the surface. He was then lowered in with a rope around his body but he was overcome by fumes again and was hauled to the surface in an unconscious condition. Further cylinders of oxygen were obtained and a local man, Joseph Byrne, volunteered to enter. He managed to tie a rope around the Fire Brigade Officer and all three men were hauled to the surface. The two men at the bottom were found to be dead. Joseph Byrne was unconscious and was detained in hospital for a lengthy period afterwards.


Garda Michael B. McGann, Gort, Co. Galway

On 4th December, 1970, there was a fire in a licensed premises on Church Street, Gort. Garda Michael B. McGann was on patrol and he rushed to the scene. There was a woman shouting that a 2-year-old boy was trapped in the kitchen. Garda McGann went through the hallway into the kitchen. On opening the door, he was met with a burst of thick black smoke and the kitchen ceiling was in flames. He crawled across the floor and managed to locate the child and take him to safety.



Cyril McCormack, Donnybrook, Dublin 4 and Garda James Patrick Tymond, Edenderry, Co. Offaly

On 4th July, 1970, a man was driving in the direction of Edenderry with three passengers: his 8-year-old son, a 14-year-old boy and a woman aged 37 years. When crossing George’s Bridge, over the Grand Canal, the car toppled into the canal. The driver succeeded in getting out of the car and grabbing onto a plank which was floating in the water. His cries for help were heard by a passer-by who stopped a car being driven by Cyril McCormack. Mr. McCormack dived into the river and rescued the driver. He then re-entered the water and dived towards the car and succeeded in rescuing the 14-year-old boy. He made several attempts to rescue the other occupants but was unable to do so as they were caught under the seats. Garda Tymond then arrived on the scene and they succeeded in getting the other two people to the canal bank. Both were found to be dead however.


John Lomasney, Crosshaven, Co. Cork

At about 6.00pm on 29th January, 1971, a child was noticed floating in the water just off the pier at Crosshaven. When John Lomasney came on the scene he dived into the water, grabbed the child and headed back to the pier. The child subsequently recovered.


Denis Fitzgerald, Gurranebraher, Co. Cork

At about noon on 17th March, 1971, a 23-year-old woman jumped into the River Lee at North Mall, Cork. Denis Fitzgerald, who was passing by, jumped in after her. A Garda threw in a rope and assisted Mr. Fitzgerald in taking the woman out of the water.


Michael Lannigan, Chapel Avenue, Kilkenny

On 13th March, 1971, a man went to visit a couple who lived in a flat on Rose Inn Street, Kilkenny. He had left his motorcycle in the hallway. The motorcycle went on fire, filling the hallway with smoke. The husband and wife managed to get out of the flat but the other man was trapped inside. Michael Lannigan then came on the scene and he rushed through the flames into the hallway, grabbed the man and pulled him on to the street. The man died the following day, however, as a result of burns he received.


Michele Duffin, Greystones, Co. Wicklow

On the afternoon of 5th June, 1971, four youths went out to sea in a small boat from Greystones Harbour. It was very stormy and the sea was quite rough. Just as the boat passed the mouth of the Harbour, it overturned and the four youths were thrown into the water. One of them was wearing a lifejacket and was picked up by a boat. The other three youths were holding onto the upturned boat and their rescue was prevented by the state of the sea. Michele Duffin, aged 15 years, who was on the strand at the time, obtained a rope and swam out to them. The rope was not long enough but another rope was thrown to her and she joined the youths. She tied one end of the rope to the upturned boat and all four were pulled ashore to safety.


Nicholas Wagner, Cross Douglas Road, Cork

In August 1970, a family with five children was on holiday at Guileen, Whitegate, Co. Cork. On the evening of 16th August, three of the children, boys aged 10, 9 and 5 years decided to go bathing. Nicholas Wagner, who was nearby, noticed that they were in difficulties and went to their aid. He rescued the two older boys and handed them to their uncle, who was on the beach. The youngest boy had been swept out about 20 yards into deep water and Mr. Wagner had to make numerous attempts to reach him. Eventually, he was able to catch the child by the legs and bring him to safety.


John Nagle, Kildysart, Co. Clare

At about 5pm on 6th September, 1971, a 2-year-old boy fell into the sea. His mother saw the incident and shouted for help. Three youths, who were 300 yards away from the scene, heard the shout and came to the spot. One of them, John Nagle, aged 15 years, dived into the sea and swam out to the child. He succeeded in bringing the child safely ashore.


Edward Caulfield, Mayfield, Cork

At about 4pm on 5th June, 1971, a man fell from Parnell Bridge, Cork into the Lee. Edward Caulfield was driving by at the time and he saw the incident. He stopped the car and dived into the river. He got hold of the man and shouted to his father-in-law, who had been in the car with him, to get a spare tyre. They tyre was thrown to him and he put the man on this and succeeded in getting him to the wall. Someone then threw down a lifebelt and the two men were lifted out of the water.


Harvey O’Keefe, Templeogue, Co. Dublin

At about 5.30pm on 21st August, 1971, an 11-year-old girl was playing with other children at Morriscastle Beach, Co. Wexford. None of them could swim. She was playing with a beach ball in the water and, unknown to herself, was carried out of her depth. She screamed for help and Harvey O’Keefe, aged 14 years, swam out to the girl, bringing a lifebuoy with him. He took hold of her but she struggled with him. He then struck her on the stomach and winded her, after which he succeeded in getting her on a nearby sandbank. He then put the lifebuoy on her and swam back to shore.