herald

Friday 2 December 2016

Hero dad tried to save son and girlfriend in drowning tragedy

Emergency services, Irish Coastguard and the RNLI pictured near Baltimore, Co. Cork (Inset: Barry Davis Ryan)
Emergency services, Irish Coastguard and the RNLI pictured near Baltimore, Co. Cork (Inset: Barry Davis Ryan)
Emergency services, Irish Coastguard and the RNLI pictured near Baltimore, Co. Cork Pic Paul Cunningham/Provision
Emergency services, Irish Coastguard and the RNLI pictured near Baltimore, Co. Cork
Emergency services, Irish Coastguard and the RNLI pictured near Baltimore, Co. Cork

A Dublin dad heroically dived into the sea in a doomed bid to save his son and his son’s girlfriend after a freak wave swept them away. Barry Ryan (51) drowned alongside his son’s girlfriend, Niamh O’Connor (20), in the tragedy in Baltimore.

Barry Davis Ryan (21) remains missing, presumed drowned.

The Ryans, originally from Dublin, are members of the Ryan family which founded retail giant Penneys,

It’s believed that Ms O’Connor, from Glanmire in Cork, was swept out to sea from rocks while admiring the Beacon beauty spot outside the west Cork village just after 6pm yesterday.

READ MORE: Three feared dead after family is swept into sea during walk

Ms O’Connor’s boyfriend courageously dived into the sea in a doomed bid to save her.

However, when he also got into difficulty, his father shouted at his 14-year-old daughter Charlotte to run and raise the alarm before fearlessly diving into the sea in a bid to save the two young people.

Charlotte ran and met two foreign tourists who raised the alarm. Baltimore RNLI, under coxswain Kieran Cotter, were at the scene within 10 minutes.

The bodies of both Mr Ryan Snr and Ms O’Connor were recovered by the inshore rescue craft in a matter of minutes and rushed to Baltimore Pier where emergency CPR was commenced by a local GP.

However, despite desperate efforts to save them, both were pronounced dead at the scene before they could be transferred to Cork University Hospital. Both have now been removed for post mortem examinations.

A search was maintained until 10pm but there was no trace of Mr Davis Ryan.

A major operation resumed at first light today to locate the student and Penneys worker who is missing and feared drowned.

The search is being co-ordinated by the Irish Coastguard with the Waterford-based Sikorsky helicopter. Naval Service divers have also been deployed.

At the height of the rescue operation on Tuesday evening, two Irish Coastguard helicopters from Waterford and Shannon were deployed alongside three RNLI lifeboats and three Irish Coastguard craft.

The location at East Hole is one of the most popular tourist spots in the west Cork harbour.

RNLI’s Mr Cotter told the Herald that such coastal and rock walks can prove to be extremely dangerous even in fine weather.

“The sea is always dangerous. Even when the weather is flat calm, you can get large waves or swells,” he said.

“This is a desperately sad case. I know Barry from coming into my shop and from meeting him in the pub over a pint. He was a lovely fella and they are a very respected family here.”

Ms O’Connor, from the Glanmire/Knockraha area on the outskirts of Cork city, is a student at University College Cork.

She had travelled to west Cork for a brief holiday with her boyfriend and his family. The young man was also very interested in writing.

Ann Davis, Mr Ryan’s partner, and Charlotte Davis Ryan were being comforted today by family, neighbours and friends. The Ryan family are originally from Dublin but have been living in west Cork for some time.

Mr Ryan (50) had worked in Penney’s but had also worked in photography. Mr Ryan and Mr Davis Ryan are the son and grandson of Penney’s founder, Arthur Ryan (82).

The Ryan family retain a significant shareholding in the retail giant.

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