Wednesday 23 January 2019

Third teenager had lucky escape as two pals drowned in abandoned quarry 'death-trap'

Scene of tragedy (main); Shay Moloney and Jack Kenneally (inset)
Scene of tragedy (main); Shay Moloney and Jack Kenneally (inset)
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

A third teenager was lucky to escape with his life in the drowning tragedy which left two teenage friends dead.

Shay Moloney (15) died a hero while desperately trying to save his friend from drowning on their last day of school.

He and Jack Kenneally (15) were among a group of five who had been swimming in an abandoned and flooded quarry near Knockanean, just a short distance from the town.

A source close to the family described to the Irish Independent how the disaster unfolded.

The scene of the tragedy. Photo: Steve Humphreys
The scene of the tragedy. Photo: Steve Humphreys

"Jack and Shay were in a group of five when they went out to the quarry. At one stage Jack jumped in and started to swim towards a small island in the middle but got into difficulty. When Shay saw him struggling, he went in to help his friend...I think they just both ran out of steam."


The source added that a third youth had a lucky escape after diving into the water to help his friends. "I think the third person went out towards them but when the boys started to struggle he managed to just back off and get out."

The quarry where the boys lost their lives has been described as a "local death trap".

Shay Moloney and Jack Kenneally in an Ennis Rugby Club photo
Shay Moloney and Jack Kenneally in an Ennis Rugby Club photo

Many residents in Ennis fear its sheer depth can catch poor swimmers off guard. There are signs at the entrance of the lands stating 'Danger - Deep Water - No Swimming' and 'Danger silt Pond, Deep Water, Keep Clear'. However, according to locals, they are largely ignored.

Ennis Councillor Mary Howard has called for Clare County Council to take immediate action following the tragic deaths.

"Whether we drain it or fill it up, we have to act now," she said. "This tragedy isn't going to stop teenagers from swimming in that quarry at all. Even on Thursday after the two boys were removed from the water, there were people swimming in it. It's about 80ft deep and can be extremely cold even on a day like today ... It's a death-trap."

A spokesperson from Clare County Council told the Irish Independent that the site is private property and the signs were erected by the landowner.

The scene of the tragedy. Photo: Steve Humphreys
The scene of the tragedy. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Read more: 'Our brothers in arms...Our terrible loss' - Community reeling following death of two teenage friends (15) in quarry tragedy

At the entrance of the site, a sign by property company Sherry Fitzgerald indicates that the land is currently for sale.

Clare Water Safety Development Officer Clare McGrath said: "We are urging the public to only used lifeguarded bathing places. We also are reminding the public to take heed of advice given by the lifeguards and to supervise your children at all times."

Ennis Rugby Club and local schools led the tributes to the two sports-mad teens.

Richard Murphy, president of Ennis Rugby, said that Jack and Shay were "the heartbeat" of their successful U15 squad.

"They were the guys that led from the front, the guys that carried the fight, the guys that made the difference.

"As resolute and fearless as they were on the pitch, they were as funny, engaging and inspiring off the pitch. Our club was a better place for having them as part of it and their absence will be keenly felt."

The principal of Ennis Community College, Brian O'Donoghue, said everyone was "deeply saddened" by the death of Jack, who was a second-year pupil at the school.

Shay was a third-year pupil at St Flannan's College and was due to begin his Junior Cert next week.

His principal, Fr Ignatius McCormack, described the incident as a "terrible tragedy for both teens' families and friends".

Ennis parish priest Fr Tom Hogan said: "Ennis is a very small town and when a tragedy comes to one family, everyone feels their pain.

"Jack and Shay have wonderful friends and please God it will see the parents and family through this dreadful time."

Irish Independent

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