A MOTHER who saw her daughter swept out to sea today spoke of the horror drowning.
Mum-of-three Mary Kelly (39) drowned on Tramore beach as she played with her daughter Ciara (8).
Ms Kelly was walking on the beach with her mum and little daughter when she was upturned by two freak waves and carried out to sea.
Little Ciara watched the traumatic event unfold as her mum struggled against the waves.
Today Mary's devastated mother, also Mary Kelly, told the Herald how the events unfolded.
"Mary and Ciara were in the water and a wave came up behind them and knocked Mary backwards into the water," she said.
“Then another one came while she was under and washed her out. Lord have mercy on her, it was terrible,” Mary added.
“I never go near the water myself,” said Mary, from her home near the quiet village of Raheen, near Abbeyleix.
The grandmother had travelled to the popular Co Waterford seaside resort with Mary and Ciara.
Rescue services and onlookers fought in vain to revive the 39-year-old woman after she was recovered from the water while Ciara was comforted by family members.
Mary was a native of Raheen, in Co Laois, and had been on a family day out when the tragedy happened.
A friend managed to pull Ciara to safety but Mary was washed away and could not be reached in time.
The tragedy happened at 8.30am as they enjoyed a morning stroll by the sea.
A local businesswoman who works at the seafront told the Herald today: “It’s terribly sad. They were staying very close to where it happened. It must have been a freak wave. High tide wasn’t until 10 a.m. It happened at the slipway where children love chasing waves.
“The wave took the legs from under her and knocked her up against the wall. There would have been a backwash too,” she said.
The first giant wave knocked her down and the second wave swept her away. A man in his 60s saw what happened and rushed into the sea.
He eventually succeeded in pulling her on to the shore. But she was unconscious and efforts were made to revive her with CPR.
Gardai assisted at the scene and the Waterford Coast Guard helicopter, which was carrying out training exercises in the area, went to the scene along with members of the Tramore Lifeboat crew. The helicopter crew airlifted Mary to Waterford Regional Hospital where she was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.
Ciara’s grandfather Martin Maher said last night that Ciara was treated for shock at the hospital.
He said: “She’s home with her dad Brendan now and thank God she’s okay. It’s been a terrible day for her.”
Gardai said Mary was just playing with her daughter at the edge of the water when she was swept out to sea.
Sea conditions were not rough at the time and there are no undertows or strong currents at that particular beach.
Tramore town mayor Maxine Keoghan said the tragedy had shocked the seaside town.