A day out at the beach with friends turned to tragedy yesterday when a 14-year-old girl drowned after getting into difficulties.
A rescue operation was launched to assist the girl at Seapoint beach in Co Louth, where it is understood she was caught by a riptide.
The young girl got into difficulty while swimming at the beach in Termonfeckin. It is understood the teenager was swimming with friends yesterday afternoon when the alarm was raised just before 3pm.
The coastguard attended the scene and she was airlifted to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, in a "serious condition."
A spokesperson for the Irish Coastguard told the Herald: "We got a call at 2.34pm from Dublin Coastguard.
"The girl was in a group of three who were swimming and only two came back."
A lifeboat was launched and the R116 helicopter was dispatched from Dublin just after 3pm.
The girl was spotted in the water and a winch was used to recover her from the sea.
The 14-year-old was taken from the water to the beach and rushed to hospital.
"It seems as if she was caught by a riptide," the Irish Coastguard said. Gardai later confirmed that the teen had died in hospital.
Local Labour councillor Michelle Hall said people were deeply saddened.
"The beach is a popular destination for teenagers at this time of year, especially with the warm weather predicted for this week," she said.
"My own teenagers frequently go to Seapoint with their friends and it's unthinkable that something so tragic should happen."
Ms Hall extended her sincere condolences to the family of the teenage girl.
Liz Maher (39), from Ballivor, was enjoying a day at Seapoint Beach with her husband Colin (41), when they saw the rescue helicopter circling overhead.
"I said 'that looks serious'," Ms Maher said. "I saw the winch man hanging down looking into the water. I was hoping it was a drill."
Ms Maher said she had no idea there was a search and rescue operation going on.
But she also noticed a group of young girls looking anxiously at the edge of the shoreline.
The sprawling sandy beach was all but deserted by teatime when the clouds moved in.
Jamie Carroll (42), from Ardee, was jogging on the beach and had no idea of the accident hours before.
'I've been coming here for 20 years and there's never been a problem", he said. "It's a shallow enough beach and generally calm."
A statement from gardai said: "Investigations are ongoing."