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Coastal & River Rescuers Commended at 2021 National Bravery Awards

14th November 2021
The Waterford-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117
The Waterford-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117, whose crew were recognised for acts of bravery in evacuating seven from a fishing vessel that sank at Kenmare Bay in March 2021 Credit: Rescue 117/Facebook

Individuals who risked their own lives to aid others in peril on the water made up the bulk of this year’s National Bravery Awards, which were presented by the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl on Friday (12 November).

The ceremony at Farmleigh House in Dublin’s Phoenix Park brought recipients together to receive their Certificates of Bravery for 17 acts of bravery. There were also nine Bronze Medals for Bravery awarded, while another six recipients received Silver Medals for Bravery.

“What these awards celebrate is the noblest impulse within a human being, to risk their life in order to save another,” the Ceann Comhairle said.

“We honour people who leaped into stormy seas, who braved swollen rivers, climbed down cliffs, assisted at road traffic collisions and performed other remarkable deeds. Through their actions there are people alive today who would undoubtedly have died.”

The crew of the Waterford-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 were each awarded a Certificate of Bravery for their efforts to evacuate seven from a fishing vessel that sank at Kenmare Bay in March this year.

Sarah Courtney, Ronan Flanagan and Adrian O’Hara from Waterford and Aaron Hyland from Galway each received Certificates of Bravery, and for her actions Sarah Courtney was also awarded a Silver Medal.

Four visiting Americans were commended after leaping into action to rescue a young girl who was swept out to sea on an inflatable at Portmarnock Beach in July 2019.

Walter Butler — a member of the US Coast Guard — and his relatives Declan Butler, Eoghan Butler and Alexander Hugh Thomson from Arlington, Virginia each received a Certificate of Bravery.

Another incident at Portmarnock the following month saw Gerard Tyrrell receive a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery for his rescue of two girls blown out to sea on an inflatable flamingo.

Shane Moloney was commended for saving his father Noel’s life after the boat they were moving out of a field behind their North Cork home struck overhead power lines, delivering a near-fatal 10,000-volt electric shock.

Beth Darrer and Niamh McMahon each received a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery for their swift response to help rescue four young men who got into difficulty in the water at Inchydoney Beach in May 2020.

For her selfless actions in rescuing a father and his three daughters swept out to sea off Portsalon Beach in Co Donegal in July 2020, Jane Friel was awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

Scott McQuaid was honoured with a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery for his rescue of a young boy who had got into difficulty with his father when their kayak capsized at Ardreigh Lock on the River Barrow in Athy in February this year.

Zoey Lally rescued three teenage boys who were swept into the sea from Easkey Pier by a high wave in March this year, and received a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery for her actions.

A number of gardaí were also commended in this years awards, with Garda Keenan McGavisk and Garda Róisín O’Donnell receiving Bronze Medals for their rescue of a distressed man from a fast-flowing river in Ardee, Co Louth in March last year, and Garda Caroline O’Brien also getting a Bronze Medal for saving the life of a young man who entered the water near St John’s Quay in Kilkenny in July 2019.

And 26 years after her crucial lifesaving actions, a Silver Medal and Certificate of Braver were awarded to Susan Hackett for the rescue of two young people who got into difficulty while swimming in the River Suir new Newcastle, Co Tipperary in the summer of 1995.

The National Bravery Awards are awarded annually by Comhairle na Míre Gaile – the Deeds of Bravery Council – which was founded in 1947 to enable State recognition of exceptional acts of bravery.

The council is chaired by the Ceann Comhairle and includes the Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, the Lord Mayors of Dublin and Cork, the Garda Commissioner, the President of the Association of City & County Councils and the chairman of the Irish Red Cross.

Published in Rescue
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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