Friday 20 January 2017

Irish hero (73) who saved woman from drowning honoured with bravery award

Published 16/11/2016 | 11:34

Hero Hugh Long with his wife Patricia
Hero Hugh Long with his wife Patricia

A father-of-four who saved a woman from drowning in the River Liffey has been honoured with a bravery award after 33 years.

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Despite not being able to swim, Hugh Long, now 73, waded into the cold waters to help a woman who had got into difficulty.

Hugh, originally from Gortnahoe, Thurles, was working as a truck driver at the time and had been driving along Ellis Quay in Dublin when a woman started banging on the passenger window in distress.

Recalling that day back in February 1983, he said it seems like only yesterday.

“A woman started shouting ‘save her, can you save her, she’s in the Liffey’ and I just hopped out of the lorry. I couldn’t swim at the time, so I had to climb down the safety ladder.

“She was face down in the water. It was about chest deep and she was in the middle of the river,  I grabbed her and brought her back into the ladder,” he told Independent.ie.

The woman was later brought to hospital, where Hugh paid her a visit.

To thank him for saving his life, she handed him a lucky penny, which Hugh says is the “luckiest penny in Ireland”.

“She opened her little black purse like your mother or grandmother would have, and inside that little purse was a penny. The penny that she gave me, I still have it. It will be put up in a frame in Doyle’s of Urlingford over the next couple of weeks.”

After the incident, he took it upon himself to learn how to swim.

“I can swim now, let me tell you,” he laughed.

On November 8, Hugh was invited to an event in Dublin Castle where he was presented with a bravery medal by Minister for Housing Simon Coveney.

“Simon was congratulating me and everything, he was a lovely man.”

Mr Long, who recently celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife Patricia, added: “Isn’t it nice to have a story with some good news for a change!”

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