Saturday 1 October 2016

Divers in race against weather to recover body of missing Irish student

Published 02/07/2015 | 02:30

Rescuers search for the body of Barry Davis Ryan, who died after diving into the sea to save Niamh O’Connor, who was swept away by a wave.
Rescuers search for the body of Barry Davis Ryan, who died after diving into the sea to save Niamh O’Connor, who was swept away by a wave.
Niamh O'Connor who tragically drowned off Baltimore, co. Cork.
Barry Ryan senior who tragically drowned off Baltimore, Co. Cork, on Tuesday evening.
Barry Davis Ryan (20) tragically drowned with his father off Baltimore, West Cork

Divers are engaged in a race against the weather in west Cork to recover the body of missing student, Barry Davis Ryan (20), who drowned in a triple tragedy last Tuesday.

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 Mr Davis Ryan drowned after diving into the sea at East Hole, the Beacon outside Baltimore in a bid to save his girlfriend, Niamh O'Connor (20), who was swept off rocks into the sea.

 When he got into difficulty, his father, Barry Ryan (51), a scion of the family which founded Penney's/Primark, also dived into the sea in a doomed bid to save the youngsters.

 All three drowned.

Niamh O'Connor who tragically drowned off Baltimore, co. Cork.
Niamh O'Connor who tragically drowned off Baltimore, co. Cork.

Read more: Fishing village shocked by triple tragedy on coast walk

 The bodies of Mr Ryan and Ms O'Connor were recovered within minutes but the body of Mr Davis Ryan is still missing.

 Today, Naval Service and West Cork Rescue Divers (WCRD) have extended their search area in a desperate bid to locate the remains before weather conditions deteriorate.

 Dive teams operated from before 6am to 10pm last night.

Barry Davis Ryan (20) tragically drowned with his father off Baltimore, West Cork
Barry Davis Ryan (20) tragically drowned with his father off Baltimore, West Cork

 Today, they will under dives in shifts as the search area is extended beyond the entrance to Baltimore harbour.

 Concern is mounting that the strong currents which swirl past the entrance to the west Cork harbour may have moved Mr Davis Ryan's remains some distance from where the tragedy occurred.

Read more: Two dead and one missing after accident off west coast

 John Kearney of WCRD said no effort is being spared.

Barry Ryan senior who tragically drowned off Baltimore, Co. Cork, on Tuesday evening.
Barry Ryan senior who tragically drowned off Baltimore, Co. Cork, on Tuesday evening.

 "The aim is to cover as much of the area as possible while the weather conditions are still favourable," he told the Herald.

 Divers and Irish Coastguard search co-ordinators are acutely aware of the fact weather conditions are due to chance this evening.

 If, as expected, a major sea swell develops all diving operations may have to be suspended for four or five days.

 Throughout the search operation the Irish Coastguard have maintained volunteers on all local headlands to report any trace of the body surfacing.

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Barry Ryan Snr was the son of Penneys founder and publicity-shy millionaire, Arthur Ryan.

Intensely private, Arthur Ryan shuns the limelight and never gives interviews, despite presiding over one of Ireland's biggest retailing success stories.

The Dublin-born businessman set up clothing chain Penneys in Cork in 1969.

In 1974, he took the winning model to the UK, where it is called Primark.

He is famously security-conscious and is said to travel everywhere with a security detail. This is believed to have been in response to the kidnapping of fellow retail tycoon Ben Dunne in 1981.

Read more: Penneys chief among drowning dead

Mr Ryan stepped down from the day-to-day running of Penneys in 2009 after 40 years leading the business.

However, he still retained some links to the company and remained on as chairman.

On the occasion of his retirement, and in one of his few public statements, Mr Ryan said he was "extremely proud of all that Primark had achieved".

Irish Independent

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