Saturday 23 February 2019

Junior Cert student died trying to rescue pal (15) from drowning in quarry

Jack Kenneally
Jack Kenneally
Shay Moloney (pictured) and Jack Kenneally both died in the tragic incident yesterday

A teenager who drowned in an 80ft-deep quarry was trying to save the life of a friend who had got into difficulty.

The two Junior Certificate students died as the country baked in sunshine yesterday.

Jack Kenneally and Shay Moloney were with a group of youngsters swimming in the abandoned quarry near Knockanean, just a short distance from Ennis, Co Clare.

They were celebrating the final day of their school year.

Onlookers raised the alarm at 3.30pm after both teenagers disappeared below the water.

Despite the best efforts of rescuers, it is understood they were submerged for up to 30 minutes. They were airlifted to University Hospital Limerick by the Shannon Coast Guard helicopter, where they were pronounced dead.


An eyewitness told of the frantic efforts to rescue the teens from the water, and of a local man who phoned 999 after friends of the teenagers shouted for help.

A firefighter and a local man tried to recover the teenagers who were lying on rocks under the water. Young voices could be heard saying: "Hold him up, hold him up, hold him up."

It is understood that both boys attended St Flannan's College in Ennis and were keen sportsmen. Jack Kenneally was a talented rugby player.

Local councillor, Mary Howard, knows the families through sport in Ennis and said she is "absolutely heartbroken".

"Every summer we hear about people drowning in our rivers and lakes and at beaches, but you just don't think it's going to come to your own front door.

"It's a parent's worst nightmare. My heart breaks for the family concerned. I'm in shock and everybody else is in shock."

Fire Service and Civil Defence officers attended the scene while gardai travelled to the homes of the teenagers to advise their families of the incident.

Chief Superintendent John Kerin, of the Clare Garda Division, said: "It's a truly awful tragedy. Both were extremely popular and talented teenagers. Our hearts go out to their families.

"They are in our thoughts and prayers. We urge all to only swim at locations with lifeguards."

His colleague, Inspector John Ryan, said that it was a very distressing scene as the operation to rescue the two boys took place.

The body of water, known as The Quarry, is a swimming blackspot. There are signs at the entrance of the area stating "Danger - Deep Water - No Swimming" and "Danger Silt Pond, Deep Water, Keep Clear".

The incident follows the death of an Ennis schoolboy who drowned in the same quarry in the early 1980s.

A local man said: "Because it is a quarry, it is 60ft to 80ft deep in spots."

After the majority of emergency services had left the scene following the rescue operation, two youths were still jumping from rocks into the water and swimming last night.

The man added: "You will have teenagers back here tomorrow if it is hot. I've been living here 20 years and I don't see anyone paying heed to the signs yet."

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