1 Samh 2013, 14.49

Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett, TD, presented 21 awards in recognition of outstanding acts of bravery at a national ceremony in Farmleigh House today, Friday, November 1st 2013.

1 November 2013

The honours are awarded by Comhairle na Mire Gaile – the Deeds of Bravery Council – which was established in 1947 to provide for suitable recognition by the State of deeds of bravery. The Council, which is chaired by the Ceann Comhairle, includes the Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, the Lord Mayor of Cork, the Garda Commissioner, the President of the Association of City & County Councils and the Chairman of the Irish Red Cross.

The Council may award medals in either Gold, Silver or Bronze categories. Certificates of recognition may also be awarded. At the ceremony this afternoon, three of the medals were Silver and eight were Bronze. Twenty-one certificates were also awarded. The Council hopes that this high profile ceremony will draw deserved attention to the brave actions of the recipients and heighten awareness of this national awards scheme generally.

Among those receiving awards are:

  • David McCormack is awarded a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery
  • Ryane Twomey is awarded a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery
  • Cillian Mahon is awarded a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery
  • Arthur Duff is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery
  • John O’Flynn is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery
  • Padraig Manning is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery
  • Garda Joe Hayes is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery
  • Garda James Rowan is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery
  • Garda Padraig McWeeney is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery
  • Garda James Hanley is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery
  • Garda John Reilly is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery

A number of recipients were also awarded certificates at today’s ceremony. They are:

  • Elizabeth Barrett
  • Michael Carroll
  • Padraig Corcoran
  • Yvonne Donovan
  • Maurice Kelleher
  • Aideen Ryan
  • Sean McHale
  • Martin Kavanagh
  • Martin O’Donnell
  • Patrick O’Donnell.

Congratulating all concerned, Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett, TD, said: “Today, we celebrate, recognise, and we give thanks, to members of our communities who, through their selfless acts of courage have helped other people. In going to the aid of others at great risk to their own safety, our award winners have brought great pride to themselves and their families and great happiness to the people and the families of those they have helped. One cannot fail to be impressed by the strength of spirit shown by the recipients of these awards. It is that strength of spirit that makes our communities better places in which to live, that selfless sacrifice and endeavour that lifts us all and benefits us all. Our recipients have done themselves, their families, their communities and their country proud and we thank them all.”

For further information please contact:

Ciaran Brennan,
Houses of the Oireachtas,
Communications Unit,
Leinster House,
Dublin 2

P: +3531 618 3903
M: 086-0496518
F: +3531 618 4551
E: ciaran.brennan@oireachtas.ie

Notes to the editor:

1.    Photographs from this event are available from Maxwell Photography 01-8308072/8307473


Award No. 1

On the 25th October 1997 a major rescue was underway in an area known as “Lady’s Bay” near Belderrig in County Mayo.  A boat with a family of three and another person got into difficulty when the boat overturned after being hit by a wave. Each of these four men played a part in that rescue which sadly took the lives of two people, one occupant of the boat and another person who was lost trying to rescue the others.  Were it not for the seamanship, skill, ingenuity and bravery of these four people more lives would have indeed been lost.  

For their efforts,
Sean McHale is awarded a Certificate of Bravery
Martin Kavanagh is awarded a Certificate of Bravery
Martin O’Donnell is awarded a Certificate of Bravery
Patrick O’Donnell is awarded a Certificate of Bravery

Award No. 2

On the 8th May 2002 a boat with a single male occupant floated out to sea at Doran’s Point in County Mayo.  In his attempt to bring the boat back into shore the man got into difficulty.  On realising the seriousness of the situation Aideen Ryan entered the water and with the assistance of another passer-by she succeeded in bringing both the man and his boat safely back to shore.

For her efforts, Aideen Ryan is awarded a Certificate of Bravery

Award No. 3

On the 23rd August 2000 Maurice Kelleher came to the assistance of two men in the rescue of two young brothers aged 11 and 14 who had gotten into difficulty in the waters at Whiting Bay, Youghal, County Cork. Maurice played his part in this rescue by managing the lifebuoy to maximum effect which resulted in the two boys being brought safely to shore.  But for the quick and courageous action of all involved in this rescue it is likely that both boys would have drowned. National Bravery Awards have been presented previously to two of the other people involved in this rescue and today,

For his efforts, Maurice Kelleher is awarded a Certificate of Bravery

Award No. 4

On the 24th June 2001, Yvonne Donovan came to the aid of a young man after he had been stabbed while out for the night with friends. Yvonne noticed that the victim was conscious but he couldn’t speak so in a selfless act she knelt down beside him and wrapped him in her jacket to keep him warm. She continued to comfort him and keep him conscious until the emergency services arrived.  But for the intervention of Yvonne the injuries to this young man may have proved fatal.

For her efforts, Yvonne Donovan is awarded a Certificate of Bravery

Award No. 5

At 5.00 am on the 24th September 1987 Padraig Corcoran was out on Lough Ree, County Roscommon with a friend shooting duck when the boat they were in got stuck in long reeds and hit the silt river bed. The men got out of the boat to pull the boat along. Unfortunately, one of their guns accidently discharged shooting through the side of the boat and maiming Padraig’s friend in the upper thigh.  

Padraig managed to get his friend back into the boat and lay him down at the bottom of the boat. Realising that his friend was losing a lot of blood from the wound he found twine and managed to create a tourniquet easing the loss of blood to a trickle. He then managed to get the boat afloat by dragging it into deeper waters allowing him to charge the engine and return to shore where assistance was received from two others.  

Because of the injuries received and the subsequent surgeries that were carried out on this man there is no doubt but for the actions of Padraig Corcoran this man would have lost his life.

For his efforts, Padraig Corcoran is awarded a Certificate of Bravery.

Award No. 6

On the 25th October 1998 Michael Carroll entered the water to rescue a woman who had gotten into difficulty in the Castletown River at Georges Quay, Dundalk, Co. Louth. By the time the emergency services arrived Mr Carroll was supporting the woman against one of the dock supports. At the time the river was in full tidal flood and just beginning to ebb which resulted in a strong current at the quayside. In addition the weather was particularly cold and miserable.  It is felt that the action taken by Mr Carroll was particularly courageous when one considers the difficult conditions that existed at that time. As result of Mr Carroll’s brave deed the woman was brought to safety.

For his efforts, Michael Carroll is awarded a Certificate of Bravery.

Award No. 7

In July 1999, Elizabeth Barrett was then a Scout Leader with the Skerries Unit who were camping along with other scouting units in Lough Key, near Boyle in County Roscommon.  
One of the other Scout Leaders from another Unit waded into Louth Key and, as she did, the sands below began to shift. As she couldn’t swim she lost her footing and fell into the water. The scene was unfolding in front of many young members who were obviously stricken by the sight of one of their leaders struggling in the water. Elizabeth Barrett took control of the situation and after ensuring that the youngsters were safe and calm she swam the distance into the lake and rescued her colleague towing her back to the safety of dry land.  But for the swift actions of Elizabeth this event could have resulted in a much more serious outcome.

For her efforts, Elizabeth Barrett is awarded a Certificate of Bravery.

Award No. 8

At 11.50 pm on 8th August 2011, Garda John Reilly and a colleague responded to a call to go to Horse Lane, Drogheda, County Louth where there was a report of a woman standing close to the water’s edge along the embankment. Two other Gardaí also attended the scene.

Garda Reilly immediately requested one of his colleagues to distract the woman while he lowered himself, with assistance from another colleague, to the water’s edge. From there he engaged the woman in conversation until the Coastguard personnel arrived. At that point the woman threw herself into the fast flowing river followed closely by Garda Reilly who managed to hold onto her and bring her to the river bank where she received first-aid before being removed to hospital.

There is no doubt but for the swift actions of Garda Reilly, the incident may have resulted in the loss of life. Garda Reilly demonstrated an unselfish determination to preserve the life of the woman, showing little regard for his own safety.

For his efforts, Garda John Reilly is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

Award No. 9

At 8pm on 13th January 2013 Garda James Hanley and a colleague responded to a 999 call indicating that a woman had jumped into the River Fergus in Ennis, County Clare. When they arrived to the scene they found the woman hanging onto a life buoy in the river. As she was unresponsive to their calls Garda Hanley climbed the river boundary wall and waded out to her. The woman was conscious but very frightened and weak. Garda Hanley managed to keep the woman’s head above water and continued to reassure her until he was able to pull her out of the water with the assistance of his colleague and some onlookers. The woman was treated by paramedics and removed to hospital where she made a full recovery.

There is no doubt but for the courageous action of Garda James Hanley entering the river ,especially in difficult conditions as it was cold and there was a strong current, this incident may have resulted in a loss of life.

For his efforts, Garda James Hanley is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

Award No. 10

At 5.45 am on 1st August 2010, Garda Padraig McWeeney and Garda James Rowan from Granard Garda Station in Longford responded to a call that a woman had fallen into the water at Tarmonbarry, County Roscommon. The Gardaí arrived at the scene and saw the woman in great distress in the water. They noticed a small boat nearby and attempted to untie it to no avail with a view to getting it out to her. Garda Rowan, without any thought to her own personal safety and fully clothed, entered the water and made his way over to where the woman had last been seen. Garda McWeeney threw a lifebuoy in their direction and then entered the water himself. It took both Gardaí, with some difficulty and great effort, to get the woman to shore where they were are to successfully resuscitate her.

If not for the prompt and brave actions of Garda James Rowan and Garda Padraig McWeeney on that early morning in question there is little doubt that this woman would have lost her life and drowned.

For their efforts,
Garda Padraig Weeney is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery
Garda James Rowan is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery

Award No. 11

At 6.30 am on 6th June 2012 Garda Joseph Hayes was on duty with colleagues in the Dock Road area of Limerick City when they noticed a woman standing by the River Shannon. The Gardaí were concerned for her welfare and stopped to talk to her.

The woman appeared to be in an irrational state and seemed to be intoxicated, and while every effort was made to persuade her to step away from the edge of the river, she jumped in. Garda Hayes immediately reacted and followed the woman into the river. He quickly swam to her assistance and brought her back to the quayside where, with the help of his colleagues, she was removed from the water and taken by ambulance to hospital.

Garda Hayes’ actions in this instance are to be highly commended especially when one considers the natural elements that he had to overcome. The River Shannon is tidal and at that time of the year, it can reach six metres. At the time the tide was coming in and the force and swell of the river was made worse by heavy rain that had previously fallen. The currents in such conditions are treacherous and Garda Hayes faced a real risk to his own life in saving this woman.

For his efforts, Garda Joseph Hayes is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

Award No. 12

On 27th July 2007, Padraic Manning was sitting on the pier at Dingle, County Kerry where he was visiting from his native Connemara when he noticed a mother and her three children walking along the quayside heading towards a funfair.  One of the children broke away and ran towards a boat. Failing to see the gap between the boat and the harbour wall, the child plunged into the sea.  As the mother, who could not swim, began to scream and look for help, Padraic responded and with little thought for his own safety he dived in after the child.  Padraic Manning caught hold of the child and managed to bring her back towards the ladder at the edge of the pier, where with some assistance from the crowd that had gathered, he was able to climb back to safety with the young child in his arms.

Padraic Manning did not hesitate in placing his own life at risk, especially when one considers the close proximity of moored boats in the harbour, the quay wall and the currents of the sea in the area.  There, but for his bravery, could have been a very tragic accident.

For his efforts, Padraic Manning is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

Award No. 13

At 11.15pm on 25th February, 2011, John O’Flynn was walking along the Christy Ring Bridge over the River Lee in Cork City with a group of friends when they noticed that there was a man in the river at Lavitts Quay. Without consideration of the risk to himself he climbed down the ladder at the side of the river and lowered himself into the freezing cold water. He continued swimming out across the river until he reached the man. He took hold of the man and managed to get him back to the water’s edge where he held onto him until the Fire Brigade arrived a short time later.

There is little doubt that the man would have died on that night if John O’Flynn had not taken the courageous decision to enter the water and rescue him.

For his efforts, John O’Flynn is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

Award No. 14

In the late hours of 5th September 2007 Arthur Duff was at his home in the North Strand area of Dublin when he was disturbed by the noise of people outside his home.  Through his window he observed a couple and when the noise suddenly stopped he once again went to the window where he saw the couple were now face-down in the Royal Canal which runs by his house.

Without hesitating Mr Duff went to the assistance of the couple and noticing a boy on his bicycle he called him to raise the alarm and call the emergency services.  Arthur Duff jumped into the water and managed to bring the man to the water’s edge and get him out of the canal with the assistance of two Gardaí who had arrived on the scene.  Arthur Duff then returned to the water to retrieve the woman and again he was successful in bringing her to the canal edge where the Gardaí were able to assist in removing her from the canal.    Both people were given CPR at the canal edge by the Gardaí before being brought to hospital where both were treated.  Sadly the woman later died in the Mater Hospital.

Arthur Duff, who at his own personal risk jumped into the canal to rescue the couple showed immense bravery and courage in the actions that he took.

For his efforts, Arthur Duff is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

Award No. 15

In the late hours of 17th August 2011, Cillian Mahon and Ryane Twomey were celebrating their Leaving Certificate results when they noticed a fire in an apartment block in Patrick Street area of Fermoy, County Cork.

They managed to kick open the main entrance door to the apartment complex and without much thought for their own personal safety they entered the building.  The two teenagers managed to fight their way into the smoke-filled premises and locate and drag one man outside to safety.  At this point the man they had just rescued informed them that there was another person in the burning building.  Cillian Mahon alerted the emergency services while Ryane Twomey returned into the building using his tee-shirt to shield his mouth and nose from the smoke filled building.  Ryane Twomey managed to bring the second person out of the building to safety as the Gardaí and emergency services arrived.  Thankfully, no one was injured in this incident.

There is no doubt but for the swift actions of Cillian Mahon and Ryane Twomey that this incident could have resulted in the loss of life.  Both young men displayed considerable courage in the actions they took which resulted in the successful rescue of two people from this burning building.

For their efforts,
Ryane Twomey is awarded a Silver Medal and Certificate of Bravery.
Cillian Mahon is awarded a Silver Medal and Certificate of Bravery.

Award No. 16

On the evening of Sunday, 14th August 2011, David McCormack was at home in Kildare when he heard the sound of glass breaking outside. When he went to investigate he noticed smoke coming from the windows of his neighbour Patrick Gibney’s house and his neighbour at one of the upstairs windows in a distressed state. David immediately ran to the house and managed to kick-open the front door of the house.  On entering the house the hallway was black and visibility was extremely poor as smoke continued to billow out from the downstairs rooms. David continued through the darkness up the stairs to where he had last seen his neighbour. He located Patrick Gibney on the floor and managed to get him to his feet and pull him down the stairs to where the emergency services were waiting. Mr Gibney was brought to hospital and was treated for smoke inhalation.

There is no doubt that but for the selfless actions of David McCormack and the bravery and courage that he showed in entering the house this incident could have had a tragic ending with the possible loss of life.

For his efforts, David McCormack is awarded a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.