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Monday 5 December 2016

Mother's heartfelt appeal for divers in search for missing son in Baltimore

Ann Davis
Ann Davis
Barry Davis Ryan

THE mother of an heroic student who drowned while trying to save his girlfriend has appealed for help in recovering his body.

Ann Davis paid tribute to the Irish Coastguard and the RNLI for the incredible role they have played to date in trying to recover the remains of her son, Barry Davis Ryan (20).

But she underlined the need for experienced recovery divers to help the Irish Coastguard, RNLI and West Cork Dive Rescue (WCDR) exploit a vital 48-hour weather window in Baltimore.

hampered

Weather conditions have severely hampered the search over five of the past eight days for Mr Davis Ryan, who drowned alongside his father, Barry Ryan (51), after both had bravely tried to save the young man's girlfriend, Niamh O'Connor (20).

Ms O'Connor was swept into the sea shortly after 6pm on June 30 at East Hole, near Baltimore's iconic Beacon tourist attraction. Mr Ryan's daughter, Charlotte (14), raised the alarm but all three drowned.

The bodies of Ms O'Connor and Mr Ryan Snr were recovered within minutes by Baltimore RNLI.

However, despite a massive recovery operation over the past eight days involving more than 60 personnel, no trace has so far been found of the young man's body.

The mother-of-three described the duo as "Big Barry and Small Barry".

"I have lost two loved ones - the loss is huge. What can you say? We just cannot believe what happened. It is devastating.

"Barry was a very spiritual and intelligent man. My son was a lovely boy and very intelligent as well. They were both very good friends. Everybody loved them."

She said the family has been overwhelmed by the solidarity and kindness of the tight-knit west Cork fishing community.

But she said experienced recovery divers are needed from tomorrow to help support the search operation.

"I want to thank everyone who has helped (in the search). They have been amazing. But we would love if more (divers) were available," she said.

The heartbroken mother said the entire family is now praying that her son's body is found.

Dive operations had to be severely curtailed for five days because of inclement weather conditions and dangerous sea swells.

Once weather conditions improve tomorrow, expanded dive operations will resume, led by the Irish Coastguard and WCDR.

Special prayers were offered by the family at Mr Ryan's Requiem Mass in Rath, Baltimore last weekend for the recovery of Mr Davis Ryan's body.

The recovery operation has involved look-outs being maintained at all headlands around Baltimore, but divers believe there is a very strong chance that the young man's body may still be within the harbour area.

Diver John Kearney vowed that no effort will be spared in trying to locate and recover Mr Davis Ryan's remains.

"Everyone knows how important it is for a family to get the remains of a loved one back so they can get some closure," he said.

The recovery operation has, until now, been strictly limited to Irish Coastguard, Naval Service, RNLI and WCDR personnel. However, to exploit the predicted improvement in weather conditions, search officials said they would welcome the support of experienced recovery divers. Almost 50 divers from all over Ireland have offered their services.

Mr Ryan Snr and Mr Davis Ryan are the son and grandson of Penney's founder, Arthur Ryan (80).

The former Penney's boss hailed his son as "a true hero" at his funeral last Sunday.

It is believed Mr Davis Ryan dived into the sea to save Ms O'Connor.

When both got into difficulty, Mr Ryan Snr sacrificed his life to try to save them.

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