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Rescuers Saluted at Water Safety Ireland’s National Annual Awards Ceremony (Video)

2nd December 2021
 Aoibhin Garrihy was MC for Water Safety Ireland’s online National Annual Awards Ceremony
Aoibhin Garrihy was MC for Water Safety Ireland’s online National Annual Awards Ceremony

Twenty-four lives were saved from drowning by rescuers who were recognised at Water Safety Ireland’s online National Annual Awards Ceremony on Tuesday.

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD presented the ‘Seiko Just in Time Rescue Award’ to the rescuers in appreciation for saving so many lives. “It is an honour to pay tribute to these deserving award recipients”, commented Minister Humphreys. “Without their quick thinking, the outcomes could have been very different. On average 115 people drown in Ireland every year* and while one drowning is one too many, the figure would have been higher but for their lifesaving reactions.”

In paying tribute to the awardees, Minister Humphreys added, “As everyone here today knows, drowning is a needless tragedy. 76 people drowned last year alone – a figure that would be even higher but for the efforts of individuals here today and the ongoing work of volunteers. You, the award recipients, are being honoured today because you have the commitment, skills and courage in promoting water safety. The service given by each of today’s awardees is exceptional and you deserve this special recognition.”

Seamus O'Neill, Vice Chairman of Water Safety IrelandSeamus O'Neill, Vice Chairman of Water Safety Ireland
Other recipients include 23 volunteers who will be presented with Long-Service Volunteer Awards, recognising a combined total of 500 years of personal service teaching swimming, water rescue and survival skills in communities nationwide. “I would like to commend the efforts of Water Safety Ireland volunteers who devote their time and contribute to the year on year trend of reduced drownings”, continued Minister Humphreys. “The Lifeguard service is also crucial to safety on our waterways and would not be possible without the teaching and assessment conducted by Water Safety Ireland Volunteers nationwide. This summer, Lifeguards rescued 473 people from drowning, administered first aid on 6,787 occasions and reunited with their families, a total of 516 lost children found wandering unsupervised near water.”

“I would ask all adults to make themselves more aware of the dangers of drowning”, commented Seamus O’Neill, Vice-Chairman of Water Safety Ireland. “Tragedy can strike in seconds but with the right knowledge, skills and attitudes everyone can avoid the hazards and take responsibility for their own safety. Encourage your family, friends and colleagues to read Water Safety Ireland’s guidelines at so that they can enjoy Ireland’s waterways safely.”

The Seiko Just in Time Award was presented to those who helped save someone at risk of drowning.

Without their quick thinking, the outcomes could have been very different.

1. Ruairi Brennan – Laois
In July this year, while swimming at the River Nore in County Laois, Ruairi noticed a woman who was unable to swim enter the water. He tried to assist her and quickly realised that he needed to take her in tow. Ruairi calmed the woman down and managed to take her in a carry to the bank. Well done Ruairi.

2. Tina Kavanagh – Kilkenny 
In the summer of 1985, Tina was a teenager swimming at Graignamanagh, County Kilkenny when she noticed a young boy in distress in the water. He had gotten into difficulty after receiving an accidental knock to his head. He subsequently swallowed water and began to panic. Tina swam to the boy and tilted his head back, all the while reassuring him and eventually took him to safety.
Well done Tina for your quick thinking.

3. Gary Heelan – Cork 
On the 6th of November last year, Gary was out for a walk on the banks of Blackwater, Mallow, Co Cork. He noticed a young woman in the river on the opposite side of the bank, who was holding on to a tree and in difficulty. Gary immediately ran across the bridge, down the opposite bank of the river and contacted the emergency services. He made his way to the casualty and tried to assist her from the bank. Gary entered the water and against a strong flow managed to help her to safety.
A very well deserving award indeed. Congratulations Gary.

4. Patrick Mungovan – Clare
In July this year, a young girl fell into the water at Quilty pier, County Clare. Patrick became alerted to the situation and without hesitation jumped into the water, before bringing her back to safety. Patrick was aware of the area and was able to identify a slipway to bring the young girl back to safety. Congratulations Patrick.

5. Zoe Lally – Sligo 
In March this year, a group of youths were playing at Easkey pier in County Sligo and watching the waves wash over the top of the pier. A large wave suddenly broke over the breakwater and down onto the boys, washing them off the pier and into the sea. Zoe, an experienced surfer, ran onto the pier and managed to pull two of the teenagers to safety with the aid of ringbuoys. She then swam out to the third boy and managed to bring him to safety further along the coast. A wonderful rescue, well done Zoe.

6. Daragh Flynn – Wicklow 
In July this year, Daragh was walking across a bridge at Clara Funpark, County Wicklow when he noticed a small child in the water. He immediately jumped into the water and picked her up into his arms. After saving her from the water he helped to warm her up and was assisted by an off-duty paramedic. They took her to a first aid room where they kept her warm until emergency services arrived. Another wonderful rescue, Well done Daragh.

7. Ger Daly - Galway 
In September 2019, Ger was swimming with a group at Salthill, County Galway when one of the group got into difficulty. He soon realised the man was unwell, at which point Ger turned him onto his back and towed him safely to shore where he regained consciousness. Ger waited with him until emergency services arrived and the man-made a full recovery. A very well done Ger.

8. Philip Owens – Louth 
In July this year, Philip noticed the coastguard passing by en route to a person in difficulty in the water at Whitestown, County Louth. He immediately located a kayak and paddled out to the person in difficulty. Philip gripped onto the man’s lifejacket and stayed in position until a rescue boat arrived at the scene. He then assisted the man onto the rescue boat. Well done Philip.

9. Michael Carrig (Just In Time Award) and Marguerite Carrig (Rescue Appreciation Award) – Clare
In July of 2005, Michael and Marguerite were boating when they observed changing weather conditions as another boating family were turning for home on the Shannon Estuary in County Clare. They followed the small boat as they realised it was in jeopardy of being overturned. They took the woman and children on board their larger boat and safely escorted the man on the small boat to his destination. Michael receives a Seiko Just In Time award and Marguerite receives a Rescue Appreciation award. Well done to you both.

10. Nikki Wan – Dublin 
In October this year, Nikki was walking her dogs along the Grand Canal, at Harold’s Cross bridge when she noticed a pair of men’s trainers submerged under the water. She grabbed the man’s hood and managed to bring him to safety to the riverbank. She then checked his pulse, placed him into the recovery position and remained with him until emergency services arrived. Nikkola would like to thank Justin from Dolphin's Barn Fire Station for nominating her and everyone at Water Safety Ireland for her award. Nikkola would also like to dedicate this award to her mum, and her stepdad Tony who is currently in hospital.

11. Tommy Moyna – Monaghan
On July 25th this year, Tommy was working on a farm when he heard shouting from a man and woman in difficulty in an adjoining lake. He immediately dived under the water and pulled the submerged woman above water. The man also held onto Tommy who successfully managed to tow the couple to safety. 

12. Mark Kavanagh – Wexford 
In July this year, Mark became aware of a woman in distress in the water at a bridge in Wexford town. The RNLI were on their way to the scene when they witnessed Mark lifting the woman out of the water and into his boat. He brought her to the Wexford quay front where emergency services were waiting. Well done Mark for your quick lifesaving action.

13. Joseph McNulty, Kristin McNulty and Sean McNulty – Donegal 
In September this year, McNulty family were walking on Bundoran Beach, County Donegal when they noticed three girls trapped on a sandbank by surrounding water. Two of the girls were trying to swim to safety and the third girl was now stranded up to chest level in the water. Kristin grabbed a ring buoy, while both Joseph and Sean entered the water up to their waist. The ring buoy was used to pull two of the girls to safety. As Joseph & Kristin edged closer to the third girl, Sean also entered the water with the ring buoy. He managed to reach her and pull her to safety in a cross-chest hold.
Well done Joseph, Kristin and Sean on a remarkable rescue.

The Rescue Appreciation Awards, for coming to assist in a rescue

1. The first recipient is Declan Reid from County Kildare, posthumously
In February 2021 Declan was on the bank of the River Barrow, with a rope tied to his son’s kayak. Suddenly the kayak overturned, at which point Declan jumped in to rescue his son Arron. Declan managed to hold Arron up in the water until other family members and members of the public were able to bring Arron to shore. Tragically, Declan went below the water and was lost to the river. A truly selfless act.

2. The next recipient is Stephen Clarke from County Dublin, posthumously.
In November 2012, Stephen was working at a hotel along the River Liffey when he heard cries for help coming from the boardwalk. A woman was in difficulty and Stephen immediately entered the water. He managed to reach the woman and brought her to the other side of the river, where another young man arrived to aid the rescue. They eventually made it to a ladder, and all were successfully pulled out of the water to safety. A situation that could have had a tragic outcome if not for Stephen’s efforts. Sadly, Stephen has since passed away due to an unrelated illness, but we are thankful and recognise his efforts to save a life.

Long Service Awards

Long Service Awards are presented in recognition of a voluntary commitment to promoting public awareness of water safety and rescue. 

Caitriona McMahon, Clare, 10 Years of Service
Alison Deane Clare 10
Josh Kelly Ballybunion CRBI 10
John McShane Sligo 10
Eddie Walshe Clare 15
Tara Spry Hayes Clare 15
PJ O’Gorman Ballybunion CBRI 15
Fiona Staunton Clare 15
Jean Mahon Kildare 20
Sinead Miller Dublin 20
Paddy Drumgoole Louth 20
Josephine O’Rourke Monaghan 20
John McGee Donegal 20
Evelyn O’Reilly Cavan 20
Philomena Lynch Cavan 20
Leo Mahon Kildare 30
Elizabeth Tivnan Kildare 30
Deirdre Webster Kildare 30
Clare McGrath Clare 30
John Staunton Clare 30
Ann Marie McGee Campbell Donegal 30
John Morrell Donegal 40
Frances O’Regan Louth 40

Published in Water Safety Team

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