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Hero garda honoured for saving woman from river


Garda Cathal O’Neil rescued a woman from a river in Co Limerick

Garda Cathal O’Neil rescued a woman from a river in Co Limerick

Garda Cathal O’Neil rescued a woman from a river in Co Limerick

A garda has been honoured for rescuing a woman from a river in Co Limerick, 17 years after saving a teenage boy from a burning house.

Sergeant Cathal O'Neill, attached to Croom garda station in Limerick, was on patrol on August 31 last year when he was alerted of a woman entering the River Maigue in Croom.

The first emergency service responder at the scene, Sgt O'Neill saw a semi-unconscious woman being carried past him in the fast current.

"I saw the woman go past me in the river, adjacent to the park, so I went into the river and I was able to wade in most of the way," Sgt O'Neill said.

"But then I lost my footing and had to paddle a bit, but I was able to grab hold of her and pull her back to riverbank."

"She was semi-unconscious but once I got her back to the bank, she came to, and an ambulance arrived quickly after that and they looked after her."

Sgt O'Neill received a Seiko Just In Time award yesterday for his heroism, presented by Water Safety Ireland.

He was joined at the award presentation at Croom garda station by District Superintendent Aileen Magner and Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche.

"I am proud to serve as a member of An Garda Síochána alongside people like Cathal, his bravery and dedication knows no bounds," Supt Magner said.

"He has taken our mission statement of keeping people safe to another level."

But it isn't the first time the Cork city native has saved someone from danger.

In February 2003, at the height of an outbreak of violence between feuding gangs in Limerick city, Sgt O'Neill saved a 16-year-old boy who was trapped in an upstairs bedroom of a house (pictured left) that had been fire-bombed.

"I was part of an armed patrol in Moyross and we came on a house at three o'clock in the morning that had been firebombed," he said.

"There was a 16-year-old boy trapped in an upstairs bedroom and I went into the house, assisted by two members of the ERU (Emergency Response Unit)."


"The boy was trapped upstairs so I ran up and got him and pulled him out through the window and lowered him down to the two ERU members, and then I lowered myself down."

"We brought the boy's mother out through the front of the house. The firebomb had gone in the front door and the stairs was on fire, so the fire was around the stairway and hallway, so we had to make a bit of jump through (the flames)."