Saturday 21 September 2019

'Mammoth wave' swept heroic dad, son and his girlfriend away

Barry Ryan senior who was tragically drowned off Baltimore, co. Cork.
Barry Ryan senior who was tragically drowned off Baltimore, co. Cork.
Barry Davis Ryan
Niamh O'Connor

Ralph Riegel

A father dived into the sea in a doomed bid to save his son and the young man's girlfriend after they were swept away by "a mammoth wave", a Cork coroner's inquest has heard.

The inquest was told Barry John Ryan (51), son Barry Davis Ryan (20) and the young man's girlfriend, Niamh O'Connor (20), all drowned off Baltimore in Cork last June.

The men were the son and grandson of Penneys retail empire founder, Arthur Ryan (80).

Coroner Frank O'Connell was told by Garda Martin Ash the three deceased, accompanied by Mr Ryan Snr's daughter, Charlotte, decided to go rock fishing on June 30 last.

The four went to the eastern section of Beacon Point outside the village of Baltimore.

"They were fishing from the rocks when a mammoth wave came in and swept two people from the rocks and into the sea," Garda Ash said.

Mr Ryan Snr saw his son and Ms O'Connor being swept into the sea and, after shouting at his daughter to run and get help, he dived into the water.

"He dived in to try and save the two," Garda Ash added. Tragically, all three died.

The bodies of Mr Ryan Snr and Ms O'Connor were recovered almost immediately by Baltimore RNLI. The body of Mr Davis Ryan was only recovered 11 days later after a huge search.

Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster, said all three died from drowning.

However, in the case of Mr Davis Ryan and Ms O'Connor, she said post mortems revealed they had both also sustained traumatic brain injuries.

It is likely that the duo, having been swept away by the giant wave, were then tossed against the rocks.

Having heard evidence of the causes of death involved, Mr O'Connell adjourned the inquests for a full hearing until February 16 next.

Ms O'Connor's parents were in attendance and Mr O'Connell extended his sympathies to them and the Ryan family, saying: "I would like to express my sympathy on the loss of your beautiful daughter. It was a devastating tragedy with the loss of two generations."

Irish Independent

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