Citations from the 33rd Annual Report of Comhairle na Míre Gaile, for the year ended 31st December, 1979


Hugh Kelly, Strabane, Co. Tyrone

At about 3.00pm on 8th August, 1976, a woman went for a paddle at Ballyliffin Strand, Co. Donegal, accompanied by her sister, brother-in-law and their three children. Without warning a massive freak wave enveloped the party, knocking the woman off her feet and sweeping her out to sea. The rest of the party raised the alarm and Mr. Kelly, who was on the beach at the time, reacted quickly and swam out approximately 100 yards to the drowning woman. He managed to grab her and bring her to safety. The woman was given artificial respiration and then removed to hospital.

Hugh Kelly was awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.


John Cousins, Skreen Road, Dublin 7

At about 4.45pm on 16th November, 1977, John Cousins was driving along Usher’s Quay when he noticed two men running along the Liffey wall. When he got out of his car to investigate, he saw a woman struggling in the water. Two men were standing on a ladder leading to the water and they were extending a lifebuoy to the woman. Mr. Cousins decided to dive into the river and he was able to swim out to the woman and catch hold of her. He grabbed the lifebuoy and put it around her. He then towed the woman to safety and she was removed to hospital.

John Cousins was awarded a Certificate of Bravery.


Joseph Kenny, Cobh, Co. Cork

At approximately 8.10pm on 30th December, 1977, Joseph Kenny and his brother were passing the junction of Lavitt’s Quay and Patrick’s Bridge when they noticed people looking into the River Lee. They went to the wall and saw a body in the river. Mr. Keaney jumped into the water and swam to the man but he sank and did not reappear. Mr. Keaney made more dives in an attempt to locate the body but, because of the darkness and the density of the water, the rescue attempt had to be abandoned. The body of the man was recovered at a later stage.

Joseph Kenny was awarded a Certificate of Bravery.


Jack Stewart, Belturbet, Co. Cavan

At approximately 8.00pm on 10th July, 1977, a man was attempting to board a cabin cruiser, which was berthed on the River Erne at Belturbet, when he slipped and fell into the river. Mr. Jack Stewart heard the splash and went to investigate. When he saw the man in distress, he immediately jumped in to rescue him. He used his left hand to hold on to a dinghy which was attached to the cabin cruiser while supporting the drowning man with his free hand. A number of people gathered to assist and a rubber hose was thrown out to Mr. Stewart. He tied it around the man’s chest and the man was brought to safety. The man was taken to hospital where he recovered.

Jack Stewart was awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

Michael Kilmurray, Athlone, Co. Westmeath

On 18th February, 1977, at about 1.30pm, three young girls were walking on a bank of clay running parallel to a drain adjacent to the River Shannon. The drain was about 9 feet deep at the time. One of the girls lost her footing and another one of the girls attempted to grab her but instead lost her balance and fell into the drain. Michael Kilmurray, aged 15 years, was in an upstairs bedroom in his house when he heard the screams and saw somebody in the water. He dashed out of the house and into the water. He had to run 40 yards through the water to where the girls were. He jumped in and managed to pull the drowning girl out of the water to safety. Michael’s father arrived on the scene and applied mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The girl was removed to hospital where she recovered.

Michael Kilmurray was awarded a Certificate of Bravery.


Raymond R. Conway, Limekiln Farm Estate, Dublin 12

At about 11.30am on 19th January, 1978, Raymond Conway and another man were on duty in the Lighthouse at the East Pier, Dun Laoghaire when they noticed a body in the water. Mr. Conway grabbed a lifebelt and both men ran to the scene to discover a woman in distress. Mr. Conway went into the water while the other man held the other end of the lifebelt. When the woman was safely secured, she was dragged to safety. She was then taken to hospital.

Raymond R. Conway was awarded a Certificate of Bravery.


Brian Siggins, William Street, Galway; William Flaherty, Claddagh Quay, Galway and Nora Flaherty, The Claddagh, Galway

At about 4.00pm on 28th January, 1978, a man’s hat was blown from his head and into the Claddagh Basin. Another man made an effort to retrieve the hat and in so doing he fell into the water. Nora Flaherty ran to the bank to help him and threw out her coat for him to grab onto but it failed to reach him. She then flagged down a passing motorist. Brian Siggins stopped his car and went to the railings. He leaned out and tried to reach the man. Meanwhile, William Flaherty arrived on the scene and together with Nora Flaherty linked hands with Mr. Siggins who again reached out to the man in the water. Mr. Siggins caught hold of him but then fell in himself as the others failed to maintain their grip on him. William Flaherty untied a small boat which was nearby and went out to the two men. He assisted both men into the boat and took them to safety.

Brian Siggins, William Flaherty and Nora Flaherty were each awarded a Certificate of Bravery.


Garda Thomas Garvey and Garda Noel Thomson, Bridewell Garda Station, Dublin 7

At 10.30am on 9th March, 1978, Garda Garvey and Garda Thomson were in their patrol car when they were directed to go to Queen Street Bridge. On arrival at Arran Quay, they saw a large crowd at the quay wall and an unconscious man in the water being supported by a lifebuoy. Garda Garvey climbed down the steps into the Liffey while Garda Thomson radioed for an ambulance. Garda Garvey swam out to the man and felt for a pulse but there was none. He then swam to the wall with the man and the man was removed from the water with the assistance of Garda Thomson and others on the quay. Garda Thomson administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and the man recovered.

Garda Thomas Garvey and Garda Noel Thomson were each awarded a Certificate of Bravery.


Patrick Moynihan, Schull, Co. Cork

On 30th November, 1977, at about 2.00pm, two young men, aged 19 and 23 years, drove to a place in Dunmanus Bay to retrieve a fishing marker buoy from the rocks at the base of the cliff there. They saw a buoy floating next to the cliffs but, on climbing down, they discovered it was not the buoy they had come to get. One of the man went to get their buoy and when he returned, they decided to get the other buoy as well. In attempting to retrieve this buoy from the water, one of the men fell in and got into difficulties. Patrick Moynihan was on a fishing boat nearby and when he saw the man fall into the water, he directed the boat towards him. He was unable to get nearer than 200 yards or so owing to submerged rocks so he dived in and swam towards the man. The body sank and disappeared, however. On reaching the area, there was no trace of the body. The body was recovered later that evening.

Patrick Moynihan was awarded a Certificate of Bravery.


Michael Doran, Derek McDonald and Tony Reddy, Ballyfermot, Dublin 10; Harry Byrne, Coolock, Dublin 5; Gerry Kelly, Drimnagh, Dublin 12 and Noel Coffey, Ardee Street, Dublin 8

At about 1.10pm on 19th April, 1978, a fire occurred at a Clothing Manufacturers on Merchant’s Quay, Dublin 8. Many of the staff were having lunch on the third floor when the fire started. Most of the staff got out but 23 girls were trapped. Windows were opened or smashed in an effort to escape, but because there were steel grids affixed to the walls outside, they could not climb out. The fire escape was covered in heavy smoke. Mr. Michael Doran was working next door to the clothing factory and he alerted the manager. All the phones in the building were out of order so Mr. Doran went to a church to phone the fire brigade. The smoke was too dense to get in the front of the building so some men went to the back and with the use of ladders got onto the roof of a shed at the rear of the factory. Present at the time were Derek McDonald, Tony Reddy, Harry Byrne, Gerald Kelly and Noel Coffey. They were joined by Michael Doran, who had brought a steel bar with him. He used the bar to dig at the concrete around the steel grids. Another bar was obtained and they succeeded in prising one grid far enough out from the wall to enable the people trapped inside to escape. The fire brigade then arrived and brought the victims to safety.

Michael Doran, Derek McDonald, Tony Reddy, Harry Byrne, Gerry Kelly and Noel Coffey were each awarded a Certificate of Bravery.


Sergeant William King, Army G.H.Q., East Wall, Dublin

At about 9.00am on 19th November, 1977, Sergeant King was in his home when he noticed smoke coming from the downstairs window of a house across the road. He ran to the house. He broke a window on the ground floor and was attempting to get in when he heard a call for help from the bedroom window overhead. It was the voice of a 75-year-old woman trapped in the bedroom. Also in the house was a 33-year-old woman and her 5-year-old son. The father was not at home at the time. Sergeant King ran next door and got a ladder which was lying in the front garden. He placed the ladder against the front of the house and climbed into the bedroom. He took the woman out to the ladder and started climbing down. By this stage, the glass in the downstairs window was breaking from the heat and the flames were spreading menacingly towards the base of the ladder. Sergeant King tilted the woman off the side of the ladder and people who were gathered below broke her fall. He then assisted the younger woman down the ladder and her fall was likewise broken as she jumped to the ground. Sergeant King tried to search for the boy in the back bedroom but the smoke forced him back. There was much confusion as to where the child actually was in the house. Sergeant King was trying to enter the house from the rear when the fire brigade arrived. They eventually located the child on the ground floor. The child was taken to hospital where he died later that evening.

Sergeant William King was awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.


Detective Garda Matthew Francis Treacy, Dun Laoghaire Garda Station, Co. Dublin

At approximately 12.15am on 28th March, 1978, D/Garda Treacy and another Garda were patrolling in a car when they received a report that a woman had jumped into the sea at the East Pier. They went to the scene along with another Garda. D/Garda Treacy took hold of a lifebelt and jumped into the water while the other Gardaí held the rope attached to the lifebelt. He swam out to the woman and they were both pulled to the steps at the pier. The woman was then removed to hospital.

Detective Garda Matthew Francis Treacy was awarded a Certificate of Bravery.


Finbarr O’Keefe, Ballymacthomas, Cork

At 5.00pm on 15th April, 1978, Finbarr O’Keefe was told that there was a woman in the River Lee. He immediately ran to the spot and jumped into the river. He swam about 90 feet before reaching the woman, who was faced downwards in the water. He turned her over and brought her towards a slipway on the quayside. Another man waded out and assisted Mr. O’Keefe in bringing the woman to the slipway steps.

Finbarr O’Keefe was awarded a Certificate of Bravery.


Garda Eugene Holland, Rathmines Garda Station, Dublin

At 10.20pm on 11th April, 1978, Garda Holland was on duty in Leinster Road, Rathmines, when he noticed flames rising up from the front of a three-storey house. He pushed open the door and entered the hallway where he was driven back by clouds of black smoke and overcome by fumes. He could see a figure to the left of the hallway. He shouted to the person but, getting no response, he rushed inside again and pulled an elderly woman outside. The woman was in a shocked state and told the Garda that her husband was still inside. Garda Holland re-entered the house and, as he walked down the hallway, he fell over the body of an unconscious man lying on the floor. Garda Holland was choking with smoke at this stage and he ran to the door for air. He returned a few moments later and managed to drag the man outside. The man and the woman were then taken to hospital.

Garda Eugene Holland was awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.


Thomas Costello, Henry Street, Roscommon

At about 12.30am on 17th June, 1978, Mr. Thomas Costello was walking towards his house when he got the smell of smoke from the one-storey house of a neighbour. He could see smoke pouring from the rear of the house. He knew the attic was used as a bedroom and so he broke a window, got into the house and made his way towards the stairs. He climbed the stairs and found his neighbour, an elderly woman of 72 years, lying on the floor. There was no window in the attic, which was filled with smoke and flames. He dragged her down the stairs but was unable to open the front door. Some men broke down the door and pulled them onto the street. Mr. Costello immediately passed out due to smoke inhalation. A Garda arrived on the scene and he applied mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the woman. A doctor arrived after about 20 minutes and he pronounced the woman dead. Mr. Costello was taken to hospital and detained overnight.

Thomas Costello was awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.


Garda John McDonald, Rosslare, Co. Wexford; Philip Cowman, St. John’s Road, Wexford and William O’Driscoll, Dunmanway, Co. Cork

At 2.45pm on 12th February, 1978, the M.V. St. Patrick was docked at Rosslare Pier. It was snowing heavily at the time. The bad weather meant that it was not possible to place a gangway and passengers were required to leave the ship via the car ramp. A party of 39 boys and 6 teachers disembarked. The teachers and the boys became separated and one boy, aged 14 years, slipped and fell into the water between the ship and the pier. Garda John McDonald and another Garda were on the pier. They were alerted and rushed to where the boy had fallen in. Garda McDonald grabbed a lifebelt as he ran and he lowered it to the boy. The boy grasped the lifebelt and Garda McDonald held him there until he was rescued. Able Seaman William O’Driscoll heard the shouting and he jumped from the ship to the pier. At the same time, Chief Officer Philip Cowman climbed down to the youth and, with the assistance of Mr. O’Driscoll, helped him onto the ship’s belting. They edged him along the belting for 12 feet to a ladder and the boy was then pulled onto the pier.

Garda John McDonald, Philip Cowman and William O’Driscoll were each awarded a Certificate of Bravery.


Brendan McAuliffe, Dublin Hill, Cork

At about 4.00pm on 26th July, 1978, Brendan McAuliffe and a friend were informed that a woman was drowning at Long Strand, Ownahincha, Rosscarbery, Co. Roscommon. Mr. McAuliffe, who was a lifeguard, got a lifebelt from the lifeguard’s hut and headed for the strand. On arrival at the strand, Mr. McAuliffe was given a rough indication of the woman’s position who was now about 400 yards out and drifting. Conditions were difficult to effect a rescue, with rough seas and high waves. Mr. McAuliffe instructed some people to go to the cliff-top overlooking the strand so they could give him directions once he was in the water and he told his friend to go for the lifeboat. He entered the water and once he was 400 yards out, the people on the cliff-top directed him to the woman. He gave her the lifebelt and told her the lifeboat was on its way. The lifeboat’s engine had cut out, however. Mr. McAuliffe and the woman both got into difficulties but they managed to move in towards the shore where they were pulled to safety by some locals and Gardaí. Both the lifeguard and the woman were removed to hospital.

Brendan McAuliffe was awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.


Sergeant Michael F. Kavanagh, Kevin Street Garda Station, Dublin 8; Liam Parkes, Drumcondra, Dublin 9 and Anthony Locke, Drimnagh, Dublin 12

At about noon on 16th December, 1977, a gas leak developed in Newport Street, Dublin 8, when workmen using a mechanical digger came in contact with a gas pipe below the road surface. Work was stopped and the workers knocked on the doors of houses to warn the occupants. No reply was received from one of the houses so a ladder was procured and put up to the bedroom window. Anthony Locke climbed up and saw a man lying in bed. He called out but there was no reply. Sgt. Michael Kavanagh was patrolling in the area at the time and when he was alerted he went to the house. The Sergeant, accompanied by Anthony Locke and Liam Parkes, entered the house through the back door. They went upstairs and got a strong smell of gas in the bedroom. They carried the man downstairs and placed him outside on the path. Feeling dizzy from the gas, they began to wander around and had to be assisted. The man was taken to hospital where he was found to be dead. Sergeant Kavanagh, Mr. Locke and Mr. Parkes were also taken to hospital and given medical attention but they were later discharged.

Sergeant Michael F. Kavanagh, Liam Parkes and Anthony Locke were each awarded a Certificate of Bravery.


Garda Thomas Joseph Tormey, Garda Thomas Lavin and Gerry Irwin, Ballymote, Co. Sligo

At about noon on 30th May, 1978, a fire broke out in the bedroom of a house in Ballymote. The Gardaí were alerted and, while Garda Tormey rang the fire brigade, Garda Lavin went to the house. Gerry Irwin was at the house when he arrived. The occupant of the house was an 80-year-old woman who lived alone. They broke down the front door and made their way upstairs. The corridor was filled with thick black smoke and neither Garda Lavin nor Mr. Irwin were able to make progress along the corridor. Mr. Irwin could see the woman lying on the floor. As they were retreating from the fire, Garda Tormey came up the stairs. He managed to get as far as the bedroom but he couldn’t see the woman. He was about to give up when he heard her moaning and he then pulled her out of the room. The room erupted into flames and Garda Tormey lost hold of the woman. He lost his sense of direction but the sound of Garda Lavin’s voice helped him find his way out. The woman was taken to hospital where she died from her injuries.

Garda Thomas Joseph Tormey was awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery and Garda Thomas Lavin and Gerry Irwin were each awarded a Certificate of Bravery.


Patrick Keogh, Ballymun, Dublin 11

At 8.30pm on 26th October, 1978, Patrick Keogh, while travelling on a bus along Usher’s Quay, Dublin, saw a young woman standing on the Liffey wall. He jumped from the bus and rushed to the woman. As he did so, she threw herself into the river. He then dived into the water and succeeded in taking the woman back towards the wall. Two lifebuoys were dropped to him and he used these to keep the woman and himself afloat until the fire brigade arrived. The woman was taken to hospital where she made a complete recovery.

Patrick Keogh was awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.


Garda Michael B. J. Whelan, Henry Street Garda Station, Limerick

At 1.45am on 9th October, 1977, two Gardaí were on foot patrol at Sarsfield Bridge when they heard cries for help coming from the River Shannon near the Limerick Boat Club. They radioed for emergency serviced and Garda assistance and Garda Whelan was one of those who drove to the scene. On arrival, he could not see anyone in the river but he could hear a voice. He entered the water, taking a lifebelt with him, and swam in the direction of the voice. It was too dark to see anything. Garda Whelan called out to the person but he got no answer. He searched the area and after 20 or 30 minutes in the water, he gave up the rescue attempt and returned to the quayside.

Garda Michael B. J. Whelan was awarded a Certificate of Bravery.


Garda John Kelleher, Henry Street Garda Station, Limerick

At 1.50am on 10th September, 1978, the Gardaí at Henry Street Station were informed that a girl had fallen into the River Shannon in the vicinity of Harvey’s Quay. All available Gardaí rushed to the scene. Garda John Kelleher was one of the first to arrive and he was shown the spot where the girl had fallen in. He could not see a body, only the soles of a pair of shoes floating on the top of the water. He entered the water and swam out to the shoes. A spotlight from a patrol car on the quayside gave Garda Kelleher enough light to dive and recover the body. A lifebuoy was thrown to him and he used this in getting the body to the ladder on the quayside. Artificial respiration was administered on the bank. The body was then taken to hospital and was pronounced dead on arrival.

Garda John Kelleher was awarded a Certificate of Bravery.


Patricia Tooher, Bantry, Co. Cork

At approximately 10.40pm on 7th January, 1979, at Seafield, Bantry, a passing motorist saw a man fall through a break in the seawall. The driver got a rope from his car and threw it to the man but he did not react in any way. He then stopped another motorist to assist him. Patricia Tooher was a passenger in this car and, on seeing the man in the water, she dived in and swam out to him. She towed him back to the slipway and commenced artificial respiration. The man was conveyed to hospital where he subsequently died.

Patricia Tooher was awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.


Ronald Wood, Killaloe, Co. Clare

On 25th June, 1979, a house in Killaloe caught fire. The fire started in the sitting room which was occupied by a 14-month-old boy at the time. His mother had left the room for a short time and when she returned, she found the room on fire and clouds of smoke coming from it. One of the neighbours, Ronald Wood, was alerted and he tried to enter the house but was beaten back by smoke and heat. He went home and returned with two wet towels and again tried to enter the house but was beaten back. He then crawled into the house and managed to locate the child and bring him to safety.

Ronald Wood was awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.