Couple help kids in danger of drowning
It was a day Lorraine and Michael Harrington will never forget, as the husband and wife rescued three children from drowning at the north end of Ballymoney beach.
The children - two boys and a girl who were all aged between ten and eleven years old - got into difficulty last week due to a strong current which left them struggling to keep their heads above water while at the same time being thrown onto rocks which they were unaware of.
Lorraine and her family have now started a campaign to warn others about the hidden dangers in the area, namely the currents and the rocks that tend to go unnoticed underwater.
She said that she has written to Wexford County Council about signage, but says that this is really an awareness campaign.
'I went swimming with my husband, my eight year old Sean and my aunty, Ellen Shaw, who lives on Sea Road. We were enjoying the water but also talking about how there's no lifeguards there on weekdays.
'The next thing, we look over towards the rocks and see three children and one had gone down, another one was dragging the other kid down. It was my husband that identified the stress initially, and we thought maybe they were messing around but in the next minute, we realised the danger and that's how quick it can happen.
'My husband went straight over and I started swimming for it. I swam the girl out and the boys were having a really difficult time. Those kids took a beating, they got battered really badly on the rocks,' she said.
Lorraine said that, at most, the whole dramatic episode, from noticing the danger to getting the kids back on dry land, took about two minutes.
'One child still 20 minutes later was shaking and panicked but the other two seemed okay. The family were just out for the day, but the mother was very grateful. She came running down the beach and she said she didn't know what she was going to do.
'The tide is funny around those rocks, it's very deceptive. It drops from when you're in up to your hips and then there's no footing. We want to warn kids about this, but the point here is that this could have been anybody,' she said.
Lorraine, who is originally from Melbourne in Australia and is a very strong swimmer, said that she didn't think twice about the rescue.
'You could very easily end up in this situation if you're not an experienced swimmer, I don't think the kids had any idea of the danger they were in. There have been other cases of this, my aunt has lived up there for 20 years and it's an ongoing issue.
'It was terrifying for those kids, but even we couldn't believe how fast it all happened. It was just luck that we were there, up to now we have been going to the beach usually at very quiet times to stay away from people. We're not superheroes, but my son told me I should quit my job and be a lifeguard instead'.
Lorraine and her family have begun a campaign for signage warning about the dangerous rocks.
'The main message is that there aren't any lifeguards there usually until school is out and there's no warning about the rocks,' she said.