THE tragic last moments of Killarney man Cian O'Donoghue, Gortacoosh, Glenflesk (19) who drowned in Lough Leane in Killarney this summer, were relived on Monday as his heartbroken family attended an inquest into his death.
A close friend of the dead man, Brendan O'Grady, said a group of pals had visited an area known as The Sandy Bottom in Killarney National Park on July 19 last.
He and Cian decided to swim out to Reen Head, an island a short distance from the shore at approximately 3.30pm.
Mr O'Grady told the inquest in Killarney on Monday that it was an easy swim to Reen in shallow water that was just five or six feet deep. They decided to swim on, a short time later, to nearby Heron Island.
After exploring the Island they made to return to shore, and as land was only 100 yards away they decided to swim straight back from Heron Island.
They were swimming "side by side" but as the water was getting deeper Mr O'Grady felt that he was "running out of energy" and told his friend that he was going to turn back.
"Cian replied something like 'fine or I'm fine'" and at that stage he was about a length ahead and showing no signs of struggling.
Mr O'Grady told the inquest that he barely made it back to the island and when he turned around Cian "wasn't there".
He said he knew Cian could not have made it shore in that time and began to shout for help.
A man in a boat nearby heard Mr O'Grady's calls and came to his assistance. They looked for Cian but couldn't find him and called the emergency services.
The next time that Mr O'Grady saw his friend was after his body was recovered from the water.
Tim Counihan, a diver with the Kerry Sub Aqua Club, gave evidence of finding Cian lying face up on the bed of the lake at a depth of around four metres.
A post mortem examination by Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster in Kerry General Hospital confirmed death by drowning, and toxicology tests showed no drugs and no alcohol in his bloodstream.
South Kerry Coroner Terence Casey praised the work of both the Ballybunion and Killarney water rescue groups who attended the scene and found the body in such a short time. He also spoke of the "terrible tragedy" visited on the O'Donoghue family and for Brendan O'Grady, his friend who was with him at the time of the accident.