Saturday 10 December 2016

Penneys founder hails son Barry Ryan (51) as a 'true hero' for sacrificing his life in brave rescue bid

Published 05/07/2015 | 13:17

The remains of Barry Ryan leave Rath Church, Baltimore Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
The remains of Barry Ryan leave Rath Church, Baltimore Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Penney's founder, Arthur Ryan (80), hailed his son, Barry (51), as a true hero for having sacrificed his own life in a brave but doomed bid to save his son and his son's girlfriend from drowning.

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Mr Ryan's tribute was echoed at the Requiem Mass of his son, Barry Ryan, by a heart-rending tribute from Mr Ryan's partner, Ann Davis, who said the father of three would have done anything for their beloved children.

She said he proved that by sacrificing his own life in a bid to save save his son and his son's girlfriend from the sea.

Mr Ryan drowned alongside his son, Barry Davis Ryan (20), and his son's girlfriend, Niamh O'Connor (20), in a freak accident at East Hole outside Baltimore in west Cork last Tuesday.

Funeral of Mr Barry Ryan (51), inset, as search for his son continues outside Baltimore Harbour
Funeral of Mr Barry Ryan (51), inset, as search for his son continues outside Baltimore Harbour
Barry Davis Ryan (20) tragically drowned with his father off Baltimore, West Cork

Ms O'Connor was swept into the sea by a wave as the family group enjoyed an evening coastal stroll.

Her boyfriend, Barry Davis Ryan, immediately dived in to save her.

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.

When he then got into difficulty, his father dived into the sea in a bid to rescue the youngsters.

All three drowned with the body of Mr Davis Ryan still missing.

Niamh O'Connor
Niamh O'Connor

Mr Ryan's funeral took place at a packed Rath Church outside Baltimore as the search continued for a sixth day for his son's body in the harbour just 3km away.

The alarm was raised last Tuesday by Barry Ryan's daughter, aged 14, who was yesterday comforted by her mother Ann, brother and grandparents, Arthur and Rose Ryan.

Mr Ryan Snr, in a message read out by Ann's brother in law, Danny, remarked on his son's remarkable courage and sacrifice.

"You are my hero," he said in an emotional tribute to his son.

"We love you, Barry, and miss you and you will always be in our hearts."

Members of the emergency services took a brief break from the ongoing search operation to extend their sympathies to the Ryan, Davis and O'Connor families.

Amongst the mourners was Baltimore RNLI coxswain, Kieran Cotter, who was present when both bodies were recovered.

There were also representatives from some of Ireland's biggest retailer and investment groups including developer, Michael O'Flynn.

The mourners were led by Mr Ryan's partner, Ann Davis, his children, parents, Arthur and Rose, and siblings Colin, Arthur, Alison and Jessica.

Also present were members of the O'Connor family.

At Niamh O'Connor's Requiem Mass on Saturday, her father Paul said that his daughter was "a stunner" who had found "the love of her life" in Barry Davis Ryan.

"He idolised her and she idolised him. He was her soul mate," he added.

The Offertory Gifts yesterday reflected the loves of Mr Ryan's life including a photo of his children, his computer which contained his cherished writings and a copy of his children's book, 'Puffer the Tugboat'.

The Ryan family had asked that, instead of funeral flowers, mourners make a donation to Baltimore RNLI.

Following Requiem Mass, Mr Ryan was buried at Tullagh Cemetery.

Prayers were also said at the Requiem Mass for the recovery of the body of Mr Ryan's son.

The search operation, which involves more than 60 personnel, will today continue for a seventh day with officials hoping weather conditions may ease to allow extended diving operations to be resumed.

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