Friday 22 June 2018

Mother and son died trying to save drowning daughter

Ita Noonan and her children Emma (top) and David (bottom) whose bodies were taken from the River Awbeg on Monday. Gardai are investigating whether they drowned on Sunday.
Ita Noonan and her children Emma (top) and David (bottom) whose bodies were taken from the River Awbeg on Monday. Gardai are investigating whether they drowned on Sunday.
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THE mother, son and daughter who drowned in a river swimming tragedy will be buried side by side.

It is now believed that Ita Noonan (48) and her son David (23) died in a brave bid to rescue 20-year-old Emma, who had got into difficulties in a treacherous stretch of the River Awbeg near Castletownroche, Co Cork.

Gardai are examining the possibility that the trio may have drowned on Sunday and that their bodies remained undiscovered for 24 hours until a canoeist spotted David's remains at lunchtime on Monday.

Central to the Garda investigation is the fact that while the mother, son and daughter were spotted in Castletownroche on Sunday morning, no-one has come forward to report any sighting on Monday.

Garda forensic experts yesterday concluded a detailed examination of the riverbank outside the Castletownroche.

Emma's clothing was found neatly folded and piled beside where the family had planned to have a picnic. When her body was found, Emma was wearing swimming gear.

Gardai believe she got into difficulty while swimming in the Awbeg - a tributary of the River Blackwater - due to a combination of deep riverbed holes, the swift current and freezing water.

Ita and David are believed to have died in a desperate bid to try and rescue her.

Post-mortem examinations were scheduled to conclude last night on all three victims.

Details of the funeral arrangements will be confirmed today. A requiem Mass is expected to be held in Ita's native town of Charleville. She will be interred with her son and daughter by her side.

Ita's husband, David, is said to be inconsolable at the loss of his entire family and is being comforted by friends. David is an employee of Castlelands Construction in Mallow. Castlelands director, Alan Daly, said the entire company was deeply shocked by the scale of the tragedy.

Gardai have appealed for anyone who may have spotted the Noonans near the Awbeg River on Monday to contact them.

Castletownroche parish priest Fr Pat Scanlan said the tragedy was exacerbated by the special individuals whom Ita, David and Emma were.

"Both Emma and David would have gone to Nagle-Rice College in Doneraile," he added.

"They were both highly regarded and they came from a really lovely family. Their father David is now trying to take in all that has happened."I knew of Emma from visiting the school. She was a really quiet, gentle girl with a lovely smile. David was also a quiet, gentle type. I believe she was working in Mallow in a hotel and David was in the construction business," the priest said.

'She was a lovely girl who was always smiling'

The Principal of Nagle-Rice College, William Hallihan, said staff were stunned by the deaths of such a devoted mother and two well-regarded former students.

"We had David as a student here from 1995 to 2000. David was a good pupil who was extremely popular with his classmates," he said.

"He got an A1 in Technical Drawing in the Leaving Cert. Our deputy principal met Emma last Saturday and she was telling him of her plans to become an apprentice accountant." She even had an interview lined up.

Meanwhile, a post-mortem examination was also carried out yesterday on the body of a man recovered from waters off the East Cork coast.

The body of Michael Barry (63) from Aghada, Co Cork was recovered after a search of the area near his native village.

Gardai confirmed that they are not treating his death as suspicious.

In Co Cork, the Baltimore lifeboat was called out yesterday after a 24ft timber sailing boat ran aground off the Co Cork coast.

The wooden sailing boat and its two crew members were escorted back to Heir Island by the RNLI lifeboat after getting into difficulties at Roaring Water Bay shortly before 3pm.

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