Tara beats her terror of the water to save woman face down in Boyne
Scared heroine wades into river with just seconds to spare
A shopper who decided to have a sandwich by the Boyne ended up rescuing a woman who had got into difficulty in the water.
Tara Poleon grabbed a life ring and she and other members of the public managed to get the woman out of the river in Drogheda.
Tara was credited with saving the woman's life by the Boyne Fishermen's Rescue and Recovery Service (BFRRS), which said it was a timely reminder to never tamper with life rings.
"I went to the shop for a housemate and as it was just coming up to lunchtime I decided to get myself a roll," Tara said.
"It was a nice day, so I sat at the water's edge and fed some of it to the seagulls. I do that regularly enough."
Tara was "not really paying a lot of attention to anyone around me", and then she spotted somebody in the river.
Tara, who is originally from Dunboyne, Co Meath, said: "I thought about it for a second and then decided it was iffy-looking and I went down and took a look.
"When I did, I saw the woman was floating in the water and her dress was around her and I knew something was wrong."
Tara shouted to people on the nearby De Lacy Bridge beside Scotch Hall Shopping Centre to telephone for help, and then rushed to the water's edge.
"I was thinking, 'Oh, my God, what am I going to do?' I wouldn't even swim across a swimming pool.
"I thought time was of the essence and nobody else would have been close enough to get to her in time."
Just as she was wading into the river, a man threw her a life ring.
"I looped it in my arm and got into the water and started heading towards the woman. It was brutally cold," Tara said.
"She was face down and not moving.
"She was probably six feet away from me and I was up to my chin, trying to walk on my tiptoes.
"She was kind of getting away from me, going with the current, so I made a big lunge and grabbed her dress."
The man who threw the life ring had come down the steps and was walking along the rocks, so Tara was able to shout to him to tug the rope, and he managed to pull the two of them to the bank.
They were met by a boat crew from the BFRRS, who took the woman to the medical room at their base and tended to her until an ambulance crew arrived a few minutes later.
Tara was also checked out at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital and was allowed to go home a few hours later.
The woman she rescued was also taken to the hospital, and her family has been in contact with Tara.
Rescue service spokesperson Jason Clarke said: "Well done to the woman who saved her. With the help of the life ring, this person's life was saved.
"The rescue highlighted that life rings should not be tampered with.
"We get a serious amount of them being tampered with. They help save lives, and this is an example."
One of the rescue service's calls last week was to a group of around 15 youths in the Boyne near Townley Hall on the Drogheda to Slane road.
"There was a massive group playing in the most dangerous part of the river at the salmon traps," Mr Clarke said.
"Out there seems to be a hotspot, and the kids don't realise the undercurrents, especially when the tide turns."
Tara said it was not the first time she had saved someone's life - she performed the Heimlich manoeuvre on a woman choking in a restaurant in Trim four years ago.