Brave woman hailed a hero for saving girl (10) from rip-currents: 'I wasn't prepared to let her drown'
A WOMAN hailed as a hero for saving a 10 year old girl's life off an Irish beach admitted she prayed to two deceased relatives during the rescue because she feared they would both die in the treacherous rip-currents.
Mother of two Michelle Cremin was hailed as a hero by Ann-Marie Mulrooney for her fearless efforts to save her daughter, Grace (10), off Inch Beach in Co Cork.
Ann-Marie from Nenagh, Co Tipperary said she believes she owes her daughter's life to Michelle who battled a notorious rip-current off the East Cork beach to save the child on June 24.
"I couldn't bring closure until I had found Michelle - I tried to find her in the days after the incident but I couldn't find her."
"I wanted to thank her for what she did. Michelle bought that girl enough time for other people to come and help."
Ann-Marie eventually contacted Joe Duffy on RTE's Liveline show and contact was made with Michelle.
The Tipperary woman publicly thanked Michelle on the show for saving her daughter's life.
"It was a very traumatic and very dangerous situation - but I was so touched by the fact she put her life at risk for a total stranger. She didn't know me or my children but she put her life at risk for us," Ann-Marie said.
Michelle played down her role in the rescue - but admitted the seas were so rough and the current was so overwhelming that she feared both she and Grace would drown that day.
"I was not going to let her drown in front of me - I wasn't going to let that happen," she said.
Michelle, who is from East Cork, was on the beach with her own two children when she heard Ann-Marie's agonised cries for help as Grace was being swept away by a notorious rip-current.
"I am a good strong swimmer and I know that beach like the back of my hand," Michelle said.
"I knew this was a very, very serious situation and that that child was in real danger."
Michelle dived into the sea and battled waves and currents to successfully reach Grace.
The child was wearing a life-vest but was being swept offshore by the notorious current.
"The waves were unbelievable - they were very powerful and the current was overwhelming," Michelle said.
She reached Grace but the child's frantic efforts to save herself kept pushing the woman underwater.
The waves and currents meant Michelle was unable to get the child away from the rip-current and back into shallow water.
At one point, barely able to breath and virtually exhausted, she briefly let go of Grace.
Michelle revealed she then began to fear the worst.
"I was being swamped by the water and the waves. They were overwhelming," she explained.
The mother then prayed to two relatives of her partner who both died in drownings.
"I prayed to Fintan and Ger and said 'please help get us out of this.' I didn't know what else to do," she said.
The father and son, Fintan and Ger O'Driscoll, both died in Cork drownings - but, within seconds of praying to them for help, Michelle found others had battled their way through the waves to reach her and Grace.
One young man tossed a boogie board to them and that proved critical in the rescue.
"I want to thank that young man who threw the boogie board because that made all the difference," she said.
Ann-Marie also managed to reach the scene and the rescuers were able to help Grace and an exhausted Michelle to shore.
Michelle reached safety near rocks by the shoreline.
"I wasn't prepared to let her (Grace) drown - not right there in front of me. I wanted to get back to shore to my own children," she said.
Now, both Michelle and Ann-Marie have contacted Cork Co Council about getting additional warning signs erected on Inch Beach to warn of the rip-currents.
There is one warning sign on the strand but both women believe the currents are so dangerous that other warning notices need to be erected.
"It is an absolutely stunning beach - but it can be so, so dangerous. You need to be very careful of the currents," she said.
Michelle said she was so shocked by the near-tragedy that she brought her own two children to the scene to explain to them the dangers of rip-currents.