National Bravery Awards Cermony 2021

On 27 March 2021, 70 nautical miles west of Bantry Bay with high winds and a very heavy swell, a fishing vessel under tow by the Irish Naval Service vessel LE George Bernard Shaw lost power and was in grave danger of sinking. In fading light and worsening conditions Rescue 117 successfully evacuated the crew of seven (7) from the vessel in force 9 gales and 10-12 meters seas. Without doubt the lives of the 7 crew on board the fishing vessel were saved due to the collective bravery and physical efforts of crew of Waterford-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 – Sarah Courtney, Ronan Flanagan, Aaron Hyland and Adrian O’Hara. In particular winchman, Ms Courtney deserves special credit. On this occasion her individual bravery and physical effort in such arduous conditions showed her to be an individual of immense capability and significant courage.

For their actions Sarah Courtney (Winchman), Ronan Flanagan (Pilot), Aaron Hyland (Pilot) and Adrian O’Hara (Winch Operator) were awarded Certificates of Bravery and for her actions Sarah Courtney was also awarded a Silver Medal.

On 22 July 2019, Walter Butler, Declan Butler, Eoghan Butler and Alexander Hugh Thomson, from Arlington, Virginia, USA, were on Portmarnock Beach, Co Dublin, when they heard a man screaming that his daughter was on an inflatable toy that was being swept out to sea by strong currents and wind. The four rushed into the water to swim out to the young girl. Walter then decided to swim back to the beach so that he would be in the best possible position to provide first aid, as he is a health services technician with US Coast Guard. Declan, Eoghan and Alexander swam for twenty minutes, almost a mile in total to reach the girl who was struggling to keep her head above water.

When they managed to get to the girl, they took turns carrying her as they swam and brought her safely back to the shore.

For their actions Walter Butler, Declan Butler, Eoghan Butler and Alexander Hugh Thomson were awarded Certificates of Bravery.

At approximately 10pm on 25 November 2020 Maria Sweeney accompanied by her three children was driving along the road at Castlefinn in Donegal when a car failed to stop at a stop sign and collided with their car. The car struck the rear passenger side of Maria’s car and caused the car to end up on its roof. The driver failed to remain at the scene of the collision. Maria’s eight-year-old son Caiden managed to free himself from the upside-down car. Caiden didn’t panic as the others were screaming and crying and was able to run down the dark road barefooted to get help for the others trapped in the car.

For his actions, Caiden Sweeney was awarded a Certificate of Bravery.

On 6 January 2018, Shane Moloney was working with his father in their back garden in Donerail, Co Cork. They were moving a boat that his father had purchased. The mast of the boat came into contact with the overhead power line. His father was pulled towards the power line by the force of the power going through the mast. Shane’s mother saw what was happening and shouted at Shane not to go near him, without a thought Shane pulled his father away from the boat. Both Shane and his father were thrown to the ground with force. Shane’s father at that time was going into Cardiac Arrest. Shane and his mother commenced CPR on his father which ultimately saved his life.

For his actions, Shane Moloney was awarded a Certificate of Bravery.

At approximately 2.10pm on 27 May 2020 four young males got into difficulty while playing in the water at Inchydoney Beach in Co Cork. Beth Darrer heard shouts for help, and she urged people along the beach to raise the alarm and grabbed a lifebuoy as she ran towards the water. Beth waded out to one of the young men who was being helped out of the water. He explained that his three friends were still in trouble further out to sea. At this time Niamh McMahon was paddling over to where Beth was, and they began swimming out to the other young men. There was a strong rip tide that Beth and Niamh had to swim around to get to other young men. Niamh had managed to get one of them up onto her surfboard and he was vomiting, and she had another clinging to her surf board. They managed to get to the fourth man and brought all of them back to the shore safely.

For their actions Beth Darrer and Niamh McMahon were each awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

On the morning of 7 July 2019, Garda Aoife Doyle, Garda James McGuill and Garda Caroline O’Brien were on patrol near St John’s Quay, Kilkenny when they saw a young man enter the water. Garda Caroline O’Brien entered the water, swam to the man and brought him to the surface. Garda James McGuill threw a lifebuoy to Garda O’Brien and both then pulled the young man 50 metres to the nearest ladder point on the river wall and the young man was taken from the water by the garda.

For her actions Garda Caroline O’Brien was awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

On the 5th August 2019, two young girls were playing in the water on an inflatable floating flamingo when they were blown out to the sea. The alarm was raised and Gerard Tyrrell and three others jumped into the sea and swam out to the girls. Gerard was first to reach the girls and as the girls were unable to swim, Gerard had to drag the inflatable as the tide was heading out and against strong current to bring the girls safely ashore.

For his actions Gerard Tyrrell was awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

On the morning of 23 November 2018, at Ardnamullen, Clonard, Co Meath, James Melia’s lorry was hit head on by an oncoming car in treacherous road conditions. The driver of the car was seriously injured and was trapped in the car. James exited his lorry, acted swiftly and immediately took actions to try and stop the spread of fire by using his own fire extinguisher. This failed to control the fire as the fire was too strong. As a passer-by went to get help, James remained calm and began getting fistfuls of clay and mud from a ditch and stuffing it onto the flames to keep the fire at bay and prevent it from spreading. James selfless actions resulted in extensive injuries to his hands including damage to his fingertips.

For his actions James Melia is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

On the afternoon of 28 July 2020, a woman in distress ran up to some people looking for a lifeguard as her family were being swept out to sea off Portsalon Beach, Co Donegal. Jane Friel overheard this and noticing that there were no lifeguards in that area ran towards the water to help. She was given a life ring by a person on the beach and she ran into the water still wearing her jeans and swam out to sea. Initially, she couldn’t see them as they were quite far out but eventually reached them. She found a father and his three daughters, ranging in age she thought between eight and 13, in a distressed state trying to stay afloat on two body boards in very deep water. As she approached them, she asked them to try and remain calm.

Jane then asked what appeared to be the youngest child to take hold of the life ring and told those remaining that she would be back to get them. Jane asked the young girl to kick as hard as she could and managed to get her close enough to shore. This allowed someone on the shore to wade into the water and bring her ashore. Jane then returned to the three remaining people. Jane got another one of the girls to come towards her with her body board asking her to also kick as hard as she could, and she would get her to safety. The girl did this and Jane got her to the shore safely. Jane then turned to go back for the other two but at this stage the father and daughter had copied what Jane was doing and they managed to get themselves safely to shore.

For her actions Jane Friel was awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

At approximately 3am on 27 of April 2020, Garda Jeremiah Sheehy and Garda Virgina Doona met a man walking along Main Street in Banagher, Co Offaly. The man would not engage with them as he walked in the direction of the bridge at the Westend. The gardaí turned back a few minutes later to see where the man had gone. Unable to locate him they started to search the Marina carpark beside the bridge and found the man had scaled a disused loading crane and was now dangling unconscious from a crossbeam 18-20 feet off the ground. Both gardaí went to the man’s assistance. Garda Sheehy scaled the crane and pulled the unconscious man back towards the crane. This was extremely difficult as the man’s weight was close to 18 stone and he was now dangling over the water’s edge.

Garda Doona immediately sought assistance from other Garda members and the fire and ambulance services. Garda Doona managed to get a knife and Garda Sheehy succeeded in cutting the ligature. This caused the full weight of the man to fall onto Garda Sheehy’s foot which was now trapped against the steel structure. The man was held in place for approximately 10 minutes until Garda Ken McDonald and Garda Michael Rosey arrived and were able to scale the crane and take the weight of the man. Garda Sheehy was in pain and discomfort, but the Gardaí present were unable to free Garda Sheehy’s trapped foot. Fire and ambulance services arrived 10 minutes later and were able to take the man to safety and free Garda Sheehy’s trapped foot.

For his actions Garda Jeremiah Sheehy was awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

At approximately 1.30am on 30 March 2020, members of An Garda Síochána responded to reports of a man in difficulty in the River Dee at Cappocksgreen, Ardee, Co Louth. Garda Róisín O’Donnell accompanied by Garda Keenan McGavisk and Garda Conor Tuite arrived to the scene and climbed down an embankment and searched along the river in torchlight. They observed the man in the water who was being swept downstream in the strong current. There were signs that the man was in significant distress.

Garda Tuite immediately ran in search of a lifebuoy while requesting on his radio for the assistance of the Fire Brigade and Ambulance Services. Garda O’Donnell and Garda McGavisk navigated difficult terrain, and both entered the water without hesitation or concern for their own safety. Both waded into fast flowing water in the river in order to reach the man and encountered extremely difficult conditions underfoot, coupled with the strong fast flow of the river. Garda O’Donnell momentarily lost her footing and lost her flashlight to the water in the process, thereby making the endeavour that much more difficult. Both gardaí had to link arms to counter the fast flow of the river and reach the man. They managed to drag him to the riverbed on the far side of the river. They were assisted at that point by additional Garda personnel who attended the scene and later by the Fire Brigade and Ambulance Services.

For their actions Garda Keenan McGavisk and Garda Róisín O’Donnell were each awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

On 13 June 1964, Garda Sergeant Michael Joseph Lee was called to a report of a mother and daughter who had fallen from a cliff near Leenan Fort, Co. Donegal. The mother had slipped and her daughter slipped with her. Both fell and rolled towards the sea. An outcrop of rock saved them from going out into the sea. Sergeant Lee was lowered on a rope, held by some local men and reached the pair as a boat from Leenan Quay arrived to assist.

The men on the boat managed to put the mother onto a makeshift stretcher and take her on board but the girl became hysterical and refused to go on the boat. Sergeant Lee then held onto her and the rope as he was pulled back up the cliff. Newspaper reports of the time put the drop at between 200 -300ft. Both mother and daughter survived the ordeal, although both had suffered broken bones from the fall.
Sergeant Lee was wearing his uniform and regular Garda footwear at the time and had no specialised training in mountaineering or rock climbing.

For his actions Garda Sergeant Michael Joseph Lee was awarded a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

On 28 February 2021 a father and son got into difficulty when out kayaking on the River Barrow at Ardreigh Lock, Athy, Co Kildare. The kayak overturned in a very cold rapid flowing river which had burst its banks. The father managed to scream for help and keep his nine-year-old son afloat.

Scott heard the screams and entered the water. With his lifesaving skills he managed to get to the man and his son. He succeeded in getting the nine-year-old to the riverbank after some 10 minutes of fighting a strong current. At this stage the current had taken the man, and tragically his body was found several days later after a massive search.

For his actions Scott McQuaid was awarded a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

At approximately 3pm on 4 June 1995 a group of young people were swimming in the River Suir near Newcastle, Co Tipperary, when two got into difficulty. The strong curling current was making it difficult for them to stay above the water as it pushed them into deeper water of the river. As the two were struggling and fighting to keep above water and shouting for help, 16-year-old Susan Hackett saw the danger the two were in. She jumped from the nearby bridge into the river and swam to their aid. Susan managed to pull them apart and was able to ensure that one was able to swim on their back to safety as she pulled the other to the riverbank and safety.

For her actions Susan Hackett was awarded a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

On 29 March 2021, three teenage boys were swept from Easkey Pier, Co Sligo, into the sea by a high wave. Zoe Lally was walking her dog towards the pier and saw the boys swept into the water. Weather and sea conditions at the time were not good with a wind of force 5 and the seas as high as 4 meters at times. Using a ring buoy Zoe was able to pull two of the teenagers to safety from the pier. She then jumped into the water fully clothed and in rough seas swam to the third boy who had drifted out to sea. Zoe brought the boy ashore further down the coast. All three teenagers were brought to Sligo Hospital following their ordeal and there is no doubt that if Zoe was not present that evening at Easkey Pier, there would have been three fatalities.

For her actions Zoe Lally was awarded a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

At approximately 9.25 p.m. on Sunday, 3 December 2000 a serious road traffic accident took place at the junction of Burgh Quay and Tara Street. The accident involved a Scania passenger coach and a Bus Eireann coach. As a result of the accident the Bus Eireann vehicle, crashed through the parapet of the River Liffey on Butt Bridge and ended up with the driver’s cab submerged in the water and balanced on the bridge in an upright position.

Demitrios Paraskevakis was driving his car along Tara Street and witnessed the crash. He parked his car on the footpath, took off his jacket and ran over to the coach. When he arrived at the scene the rear of the coach was resting on the demolished parapet wall and the front was resting in the water. Another man also went to the scene of the accident. Both men climbed up on the back of the coach and opened the emergency exit door on the driver’s side. They then climbed onto the coach and began working their way down the steep incline, supporting themselves on the backs of the seats as they went. Fortunately, there were no passengers on the coach. When they got down to the front of the bus the two men were unable to see the driver.

Eventually, they saw his head and arms emerge from the water. Mr Paraskevakis lay across the back of the first seat that was not submerged and grabbed the driver under the arms and, with the help of the other man, removed him from the water. Mr Paraskevakis got behind the driver and placed his shoulder under him and in this way, they worked him out of the water and dragged him back up the steep incline in the bus.

Once the Fire Services arrived a rope was lowered into the bus and Mr. Paraskevakis and a fire officer hoisted the driver up to the back of the bus. The fire brigade personnel broke the back window of the bus and the driver was taken away. The driver was unconscious when taken from the water but later made a full recovery.

For his actions Demitrios Paraskevakis was awarded a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

On 24 April 2020 a fire broke out in the house in Ballysaggart, Co Donegal, of an elderly man of about 81 years old. A neighbour, Chris Steel, who was off work due to Covid, noticed smoke coming from the house at around 11am and broke down the inside porch door in order to access the house. Mr Steel assisted the elderly gentleman outside and prevented him from returning to the house as the thatch roof was not in good repair and likely to collapse. The fire service and ambulance service both attended the scene and the elderly gentleman was brought to hospital.

For his actions, Chris Steel was awarded a Letter of Commendation.

National Bravery Awards Cermony 2019

At approximately 1700hrs on 25 November 2012, Gardaí were informed that a woman had jumped into the River Nore at Greensbridge, Kilkenny.

On arrival at the scene they observed that a person who lived nearby, Adrian Brennan, had entered the water of his own volition. He pulled the woman to safety and took her to his residence where he sought medical attention for her. Adrian provided dry clothing for the woman prior to the arrival of the emergency services.

For his actions, Adrian Brennan is awarded a Certificate of Bravery.

On 6 July 2013, retired Garda Desmond Brennan was socialising with his son, who was also a Garda but was off-duty at the time, when they received a report that a robbery was in progress at Paddy Power Bookmakers nearby in Saggart, Co. Dublin. They immediately went to the scene.

On arrival, they noticed two men on a motorcycle that was just about to leave the scene. They also noted that one of the men had what appeared to be a handgun. Without hesitation, Desmond Brennan and his son approached the motorcycle as it passed them and managed to unbalance the vehicle knocking it on its side. They tackled the two robbers, securing the handgun and restrained them on the ground until the arrival of Garda assistance.

For his actions, retired Garda Desmond Brennan is awarded a Certificate of Bravery.

At approximately 0200 hrs on the 17th September 2018, Garda Pauric Deery and another Garda received a call over the radio in their patrol car.  They were informed that a young girl had jumped into the Garavogue River at Rockwood Parade, Sligo.

When they arrived, there was a large crowd of people near the river’s edge. They quickly made their way towards the crowd and observed a girl in the river holding onto a lifebuoy that had been deployed by a member of the public. The flow in the river was quite strong at the time due to recent heavy rains.

The two Gardaí climbed over the railings beside the river. Garda Deery, with the assistance of the other Garda, was then lowered into the water beside the victim where he was able to grab hold of her while also holding the wall beside the river to prevent being carried away by the current. Garda Deery lifted the victim so that the other Garda was able to grab her hand and pull her over the railings to safety.

For his actions, Garda Pauric Deery is awarded a Certificate of Bravery.

At approximately 0530hrs on 2 February 2017, two Gardaí responded to a call concerning a woman in distress in the Garavogue river in Sligo.

When they arrived, they saw a young woman who appeared unconscious, face down in the river accompanied by another young women nearby in the water. A third woman standing upright in the river and clearly hysterical was also observed.

One of the Gardaí made his way from the footbridge onto a steel framed gantry which was located in the middle of the river while the Garda Sergeant instructed the girls to turn their friend over and get her head out of the water. Following the Sergeant’s instructions, they got the young girl over to the steel gantry where the other Garda was now located. Together with the assistance of the girls in the river, they lifted the girl from the river and onto the frame.

While this was being done, the man who reported this incident to the Gardaí, Basil Harte, made his way into the river to help the two girls out of the water.

For his actions, Basil Harte is awarded a Certificate of Bravery.

On 16 October 2017, Paramedic James Hennessy and Advanced Paramedic Olive Murphy were on duty at Clonakilty Ambulance Station in West Cork during the National “Status Red Wind Warning” for ex-Hurricane Ophelia. At 1252 hrs, they received an emergency call to an area near Ballineen, West Cork.

The call was to an elderly patient (a lady in her nineties) who’s electrically powered home mains oxygen had stopped working due to a power cut. The patient had no oxygen and no alternative plan of care for a power interruption. The crew responded immediately.

Fallen trees blocked many routes. Alternative routes, though passable, were in a dangerous condition. On more than one occasion, they had to leave the safety of their ambulance, endangering themselves, and use a hacksaw to clear a path. This trip which would usually only take 13 to 19 minutes took more than 45 minutes on this day. The patient was safely moved to the ambulance. The return journey to Bantry General Hospital was again littered with fallen trees, debris etc. They eventually reached the hospital at 1500hrs where the patient was safely handed over.

For their actions, James Hennessy and Olive Murphy are each awarded a Certificate of Bravery.

On the 8 January 2016 at approximately 1400hrs, Michael Hempenstall who was 73 years old at the time, returned to his family home on Clonliffe Avenue, Ballybough, Dublin 3 with his shopping.

As he approached his front door, he noticed that it was slightly open. When he entered the hall, a man ran down the stairs, grabbed him and forcefully pulled him into the sitting room where he pushed him onto the couch. The intruder shouted at Mr. Hempenstall that there were other people in the house in order to intimidate and frighten him. While still being assaulted and in an effort to escape, Mr. Hempenstall ran to a window which he managed to push open and called out for help.

A neighbour, Aonghus O’Briain heard his cries and responded. As he entered the house through the front door, he saw the intruder assaulting Mr. Hempenstall and without hesitation, confronted the intruder. During the interaction, the intruder broke the glass panel in the back door and cut his hand. Mr. O’Briain overpowered the intruder and held him in a headlock while he tried to break free. Another neighbour who also responded to the cry for help assisted Mr. O’Briain in restraining the attacker. A further neighbour who heard the commotion entered the house, and Mr. Hempenstall called out to her to call the Gardaí, which she did. Mr. Hempemstall was also instrumental in containing the intruder who was subsequently arrested and is currently serving his sentence in Mountjoy Prison.

For their actions Aonghus O’Briain and Michael Hempenstall are each awarded a Certificate of Bravery.

At 1245 hrs on 31 October 2018, Gardaí were contacted by a woman who reported that her daughter had left her house in a distressed state. Gardaí began searches of the area including the coastline.

Two hours into the search, Garda Donal Tully and another Garda observed a young woman matching the daughter’s description on the beach at White Rock, Killiney, Co.Dublin. They made their way to the beach but by the time they reached her location, the young woman had entered the sea. Garda Tully immediately entered the sea, swam a considerable distance out to her, and attempted to rescue her. She struggled with Garda Tully and resisted him as he tried to drag her to land. Garda Gavin who had located a lifebuoy, entered the water at knee-level to assist Garda Tully.

Both Gardaí were then able to restrain the young woman and pull her to safety before being joined by other Gardaí involved in the search.

For his actions, Garda Donal Tully is awarded a Bronze Medal and Certificate of Bravery.

At 2045 hrs on 30 November 2015, two males entered the Spar shop on Clogher Road, Crumlin, Dublin 12 wearing balaclavas and armed with a metal bar and a meat cleaver. They robbed the premises and subjected the two employees and a number of members of the public with threats of violence. Money was taken and both suspects then fled the shop, running onto Clogher Road in the direction of Sundrive Road.

Garda David Currivan and Garda Cathal McGeoghan were in a patrol car at the opposite end of Clogher Road and were approached by a member of the public who informed them about the robbery. When they arrived at the scene, they saw the two men running from the shop. The patrol car pulled up behind the two suspects and Garda McGeoghan called on both suspects to halt. Both suspects raised their weapons and advanced towards Garda McGeoghan, who was forced to deploy his pepper spray to defend himself. The suspects turned and fled while Garda McGeoghan gave chase on foot.

As they ran, the suspects began discarding the proceeds of the robbery, along with their disguises, but retained their weapons. Garda Currivan meanwhile, drove ahead of the suspects and attempted to block their escape routes with the patrol car. Both suspects then turned and attempted to assault Garda McGeoghan. One suspect tried to strike Garda McGeoghan with the metal bar and he was again forced to deploy his pepper spray to defend himself. Ultimately, he was able to physically tackle this suspect, disarming him of the metal bar and place him under arrest.

The second suspect tried to flee the scene and Garda Currivan exited the patrol car and attempted to apprehend him. The second suspect attempted to strike Garda Currivan with the meat cleaver without success. The second suspect then began to run at Garda McGeoghan in what appeared to Garda McGeoghan to be an attempt to free the first suspect who was arrested. Again, Garda McGeoghan was forced deploy his pepper spray to defend himself and to retain custody of the first suspect who he was still attempting to restrain on the ground.

The second subject then broke off his advance and ran towards Clogher Road pursued by Garda Currivan where he scaled a wall at a house on Clogher Road. Garda Currivan tried to follow him, but lost sight of him. The assistance of the Garda Air Support Unit was sought and a short while later, members of that Unit observed the second suspect moving through gardens in the vicinity of Clogher Road. He was promptly arrested. All monies stolen in the course of the robbery were retrieved either on the suspect’s persons or in their immediate vicinity.

For their actions, Garda David Currivan and Garda Cathal McGeoghan are each awarded a Bronze Medal and Certificate of Bravery.

One night in August 1956, a punt arrived into a sound at Roan Inish Island which is near Port Noo in Western Donegal, as James Gallagher, Michael Gallagher (R.I.P.) and Mickey (Red Michael) Gallagher were lobster fishing on their half-decker, Irine. There were 18 people on board the punt, mainly young children, and none of them were wearing lifejackets.

A breeze was picking up as the punt moved off and it took wash over the bow. A swift retreat towards the stern by the passengers swamped the outboard engine. Within seconds, all 18 were in the water. The Gallaghers got into one boat and started firing ropes to pull them out. A yacht fishing for Pollack about 100 yards away steamed over to help. Two young brothers who were still in the water swam towards the yacht’s stern. One of the boys got caught up in the propeller. The yacht now without power and with the boy’s dead body trapped underneath was being blown towards shore by the wind. The Gallaghers got a rope and towed it to safety. All the while, they were trying to calm the situation, while scanning the water for any more survivors. Thirteen people were rescued by the fishermen that night.

For their actions, James Gallagher Senior and Mickey (Red Michael) Gallagher is each awarded a Bronze Medal and Certificate of Bravery. Michael Gallagher Senior is also awarded a posthumous Bronze Medal and Certificate of Bravery.

On 26 June 2018, a man was observed standing over the railing of the Snugborough Road / N3 Flyover in Dublin. As Garda Seán Breheny along with another Garda approached the man, other Gardaí arrived and attempted to block the fast flowing traffic underneath.

As a Dublin Bus approached underneath the bridge, the man pushed himself back against the bridge railing and jumped. Garda Breheny ran to the railing, reached over, grabbed the man by his left arm and swung him back over the railing where he was subdued. Garda Breheny put his own life at risk by carrying out this manoeuvre and both could have fallen to their deaths.

For his actions, Garda Seán Breheny is awarded a Silver Medal and Certificate of Bravery.

In the summer of 1976, a fourteen-year-old boy found himself in difficulties in the sea at the Point, Westport, Co. Mayo. Three friends of his were on a pier looking on in horror.

Gary Kennedy who was also a friend of the boy was cycling nearby and saw him in the water. After unsuccessfully trying to untangle the ropes of a nearby lifebuoy, Gary dived into the water, made his way over to the boy and brought him back to the pier where he made a full recovery.

For his actions, Gary Kennedy is awarded a Silver Medal and Certificate of Bravery.

At approximately 1900 hrs on 26 September 2018, Garda Sergeant Gavin Coleman and Garda M.J. Carroll responded to a call that a man was standing on the parapet of the M50 Bridge over the Strawberry Beds in Dublin. Garda Darren Blackwell and Garda Jason Walsh joined them shortly after.

The man then made an effort to jump off the bridge. The Gardaí intervened and ended up struggling with the man, and managed to hold on to him. The Gardaí involved put themselves at great risk including that of plunging to their deaths.

After managing to pull the man back across the barriers, Sergeant Coleman, Garda Carroll and the man fell off the gantry and fell 7 feet onto the M50 roadway. Garda Walsh had to grab Garda Blackwell’s legs to prevent him being pulled over as well. The man fell on top of the Gardaí.

Sergeant Coleman was knocked unconscious and Garda Carroll suffered bruising to his hip. Garda Blackwell suffered minor injuries to both arms. Sergeant Coleman and Garda Carroll were taken by ambulance to Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown. Sergeant Coleman received seven stitches to his head and suffered severe bruising. Garda Carroll sustained severe bruising and soft tissue damage to his hips.

For their actions, Garda Darren Blackwell, Garda Sergeant Gavin Coleman, Garda M.J. Carroll and Garda Jason Walsh are each awarded a Silver Medal and Certificate of Bravery.

National Bravery Awards Cermony 2018

On 14th October, 2016, twins Peter and Rory O’Connor (who were 9-years-old at the time) were at home in Copstown, Mallow Co. Cork with their older sister and grandmother when a minor fire broke out. Peter and Rory immediately contacted their parents while aiding their sister and grandmother out of the house.

Chief Superintendent, Cork North Division has advised that due to the bravery and courageous actions of Peter and Rory O’Connor on the 14th October 2016 their quick actions ensured the safety of their grandmother.

For their actions Peter and Rory O’Connor are each awarded a Certificate of Bravery.

At approximately 8:36 p.m. on 1st June, 2017, a report of a fire emanating from a house in Drumcliffe, Co. Sligo was received by Gardaí in Sligo. On arrival at the scene Garda Thomas O’Griofa and Garda David Hannon entered the house and began to search through the smoke filled building. A man was located in the bedroom. Garda Patrick Gallagher and Sergeant Gerard Mullaney arrived at the scene. Garda Gallagher entered the house and assisted Garda O’Griofa in removing the man to safety from the house.

He was confused and very groggy and unable to confirm whether or not there was anybody else in the house. Neighbours indicated that his mother may have been in the house. Garda Gallagher and Sergeant Mullaney re-entered the house and carried out a full search which was difficult with the heavy smoke. Thankfully the search revealed that there was no other persons present in the house. An ambulance arrived at the scene and the man was treated by paramedics for smoke inhalation. A second ambulance arrived at the scene and Gardaí O’Griofa and Hannon were also treated for smoke inhalation.

For their actions Garda Thomas O’Griofa, Garda David Hannon, Garda Patrick Gallagher and Sergeant Gerard Mullaney are each awarded a Certificate of Bravery.

On 24th June, 2017, Michelle Cremin was on Inch Beach, Whitegate, Co. Cork when she heard the cries of a 10-year-old child who was being swept out to sea by a rip-current. She jumped into the water and swam towards the girl and was able to keep the child’s head above water until further help arrived from two men.

Drew Kearney was working at the surf school at the beach when a local man ran up to him and told him that there were two girls in difficulty in the water. He immediately left his post, ran across to the opposite side of the beach, grabbed a ring- buoy from a bystander and entered the water. He saw the two girls in the water. The nearest to him was distressed but was in her depth and was being helped by a man. The second girl was out further and also distressed. She was being helped by Michelle and the two men, but all three were out of their depth. One man was, in effect pulling her down with him, while the second managed to tread water and hold the child’s head above water. Drew swam out to the second child and handed her the buoy which she clung on to. He them swam to the shore pulling the buoy with him, all the time looking back to ensure that she was still holding on. He got her to where she was back in her depth and a man brought the child to her mother.

For their actions Michelle Cremin and Drew Kearney are each awarded a Certificate of Bravery.

On 6th August, 2017 at 15:50 pm, An Garda Síochána whilst viewing CCTV footage in the Radio Communications Room at Sligo Garda Station observed a male individual standing up on Hyde Bridge over the Garavogue River and jumping into the river. Gardai attended the scene within minutes. Garda Stephen Fahy and a member of the public, Adam McGoldrick entered the river and retrieved the man. Emergency Services personnel attended the scene. The man was non-compliant throughout and resisted any efforts at rescue. He was subsequently taken to Sligo General Hospital.

For their actions Garda Stephen Fahy and Adam McGoldrick are each awarded a Certificate of Bravery.

Krista Valteris and Keisha Moloney were walking on 30th August, 2017 from Gortnahowan in Co. Carlow to the nearby housing estate in Graigeowen through a wasteland area known as the “Quarry”. They were approached by two parents who were concerned about their three missing sons. They asked the girls if they had seen them and they answered they had not, but would help to look for them. As they started to search, they became aware of screaming in the distance and ran over to a large, wet, swamp-like area containing a pond. They saw the older boys who were desperately looking on at the youngest brother (who was 6 years old) who was in severe difficulties in the water, repeatedly submerging under the water. Krista bravely jumped into the mud-filled pond on her own to rescue the boy. When he was brought back to the shore, Keisha managed to revive him with CPR and comfort him. The boy later made a full recovery.

For their actions Krista Valteris and Keisha Moloney are each awarded a Certificate of Bravery.

On 17th March, 2018, Garda Maria Freeley was on duty at Spanish Arch in Galway accompanied by Reserve Garda Alan Burke. At approximately 16:35 they noticed a man who was standing at the edge of the wall, as it drops down to the River Corrib.

When the man caught Garda Freeley’s eye, he put his arms out, leaned back and intentionally went back-first into the water. Garda Freeley immediately circulated the incident over the Tetra system as she and Reserve Garda Burke ran towards where the man had fallen into the water. Reserve Garda Burke jumped into the water, but very soon afterwards both he and the other man got into difficulty, struggling while holding on to each other. At this stage, Garda Freeley made the decision not to enter the water, as it was unsafe to do so. Another Reserve Garda arrived at this point and threw in a life buoy. Garda Freeley lay down and leaned down over the water and grabbed Reserve Garda Burke and brought him into the wall.

A passer-by also lay down and grabbed the man who had originally fallen into the water. Those on the bank worked on keeping both men’s heads above water and bringing them out of the water. Eventually both men were dragged up the wall to safety. At this point, the Ambulance and the Fire Brigade arrived at the scene. Both the man and R/Garda Burke were brought to hospital where they recovered.

For their actions Garda Maria Freeley and Reserve Garda Alan Burke are each awarded a Certificate of Bravery.

On 27th September, 2017, a car that was being driven by an elderly man was travelling out from Waterford in a line of traffic when it veered slowly across the road through an opening line of traffic coming from the direction of Cork. The weather at the time featured heavy rain and wind and the driving conditions were dangerous. The car went through a wooden fence and ditch and fell approximately 20 feet down into a water-filled dyke. This was at Holycross, Butlerstown, Waterford. Kelvin Kearns was driving his van when at Holycross, he noticed a man standing on the opposite side of the road on speaking on a phone and staring down towards the dyke.

He also noted that a wooden fence and ditch appeared to have been flattened in the same area. He parked his van and ran across the road and saw that a car was upside- down in a water-filled dyke. Without thought for his own safety he went down into the water which was up to his waist. He managed to open the passenger door of the car. As he searched around with his arm he caught hold of the elderly man and pulled him from the car. He held the elderly man for a short while in the water until, with the aid of paramedics who had arrived at the scene, he managed to bring him back up out of the dyke and onto the road. The elderly man was in hospital for a number of weeks following this incident, but has since recovered.

For his actions Kelvin Kearns is awarded a Certificate of Bravery.

On the 8th of June, 2016, off-duty St John ‘s Ambulance Staff Officer Paul Downes Was returning, from a concert in the O3 Arena, with his wife when he was alerted by A crowd who had observed that a person was in the River Liffey. The bystanders were failing to reach the casualty with a buoy, as he was already about fifteen feet out in the river. The casualty was trashing about and was slipping under and while the emergency services could be heard in the distance. Mr. Downes estimated that they would not arrive in time. He then entered the water, swam out to the casualty and returned him to the pontoon where bystanders helped both of them out of the water. The Emergency Services arrived and Mr. Downes and the survivor were taken to the Mater Hospital. The casualty was admitted and recovered, while Mr. Downes was examined and allowed home on the night.

For his actions Paul Downes is awarded a Certificate of Bravery.

On 8th May, 2017, Clodagh Hayes (who was 14 years old at the time) had just finished training at the Lee Rowing Club on the River Lee Marina and was in the company of her father, when she saw a young boy who was in difficulty in the water. Even though the weather had been warm, the water conditions were treacherous due to a high tide, strong current and cold temperature. A life buoy had been thrown to the boy but due to the tide he was unable to grab same and began to go under the water. Ms. Hayes entered the water and proceeded to swim over to the boy with a life buoy and he was brought to safety. The young boy subsequently made a full recovery.

For her actions Clodagh Hayes is awarded a Bronze Medal and Certificate of Bravery.

On the evening of 15th July 2017 a vehicle entered a small river at Carrickmore, Saint Johnston, Co. Donegal and turned upside down on impact with a river bank. This trapped a female passenger inside the vehicle which was flooding with water. The driver was able to free himself from the vehicle and stood on top of the now overturned vehicle shouting for help. An off-duty Garda was nearby, but was unable to swim but flagged a car down and asked the person in the car, Andrew Johnston, if he could swim. Mr. Johnston entered the water. With the assistance of the driver and after four attempts, Mr. Johnston was able to remove the woman from the back seat of the car. They both brought the unconscious woman to the riverbank where another man along with a newly arrived Garda performed CPR on her. Paramedics from the Northern Ireland Fire Service arrived and brought her along with the driver to Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry City. It should be noted that the woman had been under water for at least 5 minutes and had not been breathing when she was taken onto the riverbank.

Both made full recoveries.

For his actions Andrew Johnston is awarded a Bronze Medal and Certificate of Bravery.

On 10th August, 2017, Paul McInerney and Eugene Duff were on holidays in Kilmuckridge, Co. Wexford and both were swimming in the sea. They noticedanother friend who had been staying at the same mobile site collapse and fall into the sea. Mr. McInerney and Mr. Duff swam over to the man who was being pulled out to sea by the current. They grabbed hold of him and brought him back to the shore with great difficulty, as he was having a heart attack. They performed CPR on the man but tragically, the man died.

For their actions Paul McInerney and Eugene Duff are each awarded a Bronze Medal and Certificates of Bravery.

On 14th April, 2018, at 5.45 approx Gardai responded to a call to Mariners Quay, Passage West, Cork. This call concerned two children aged 6 and 7 who had fallen into the sea by Mariners Quay. Martin Cullinane was in his nearby apartment when he heard the commotion and shouting outside and looking out he saw the two youths in the water. He ran out and then dived in the quay. He brought the nearest boy to safety bringing him to the wall and railings where he lifted him up to another man who took the youth from him. Mr. Cullinane then swam out for the other youth who had been swept out. He observed that he was going under water and when he got to him all he could see was his hand. He grabbed his hand and rescued him, bringing him to safety. He was again met by the other man, who then assisted in getting both them out of the water. Mr. Cullinane’s partner had, at this point, made, contact with the emergency services and Gardaí and the Ambulance Service responded within minutes. Both youths were sent to Cork University Hospital where they made a full recovery.

For his actions Martin Cullinane is awarded a Bronze Medal and Certificate of Bravery.

National Bravery Awards Cermony 2017

On 3rd May, 2015, the older brother of Darren McMahon who was kayaking was sucked into a half open weir gate at the Maid of Erin Roundabout, Ennis, Co. Clare and the kayak became trapped. Nose down it was half submerged at an angle of 60 degrees. A large amount of water gushed through the gate, which in turn flushed Darren’s brother through the gate underwater and out the other side. However, this could not be seen from upstream. Darren, who was 13 years of age at the time, was on the upriver side of these gates and believed that his brother was trapped in the submerged kayak. He paddled into the danger zone to try to free the kayak fearing that his brother was drowning.

Within seconds of frantically pushing on his brother’s kayak to try to dislodge it, he too was sucked into the weir gate by the tremendous force of the water. Darren became trapped between the 2 kayaks that were now wedged and the side walls of the narrow gate. He had to pull hard underwater to free his trapped leg, hurting his ankle in the process. He had to squeeze through the 6 foot opening with the 2 kayaks blocking his path. Ultimately, he succeeded in getting to safety along with his brother.

For his actions

Darren McMahon is awarded a Certificate of Bravery

On 14th August, 2016 Gardaí were alerted to a situation concerning a drunken driver near Ballyvaughan Pier in Co. Clare. Sergeants John Casey and Marie Crowley, both from Ennistymon Garda Station, went to the scene where they saw a man in a vehicle parked in a disabled parking space on Quay Road, Ballyvaughan. Without warning, the man drove off Ballyvaughan Pier into the sea in an attempt to commit suicide. Sgt. Casey, along with a passer-by, John McDonald, jumped into the water to rescue the driver, who now appeared to be unconscious.

The driver was approximately 30 metres from the pier in approximately seven feet of water. Sgt. Casey made several unsuccessful attempts to break the car window with his baton. Noticing that the passenger window of the window was slightly open, Sgt. Casey and Mr. McDonald attempted to remove the driver.

Having regained consciousness he struggled violently with them. By now the vehicle was totally submerged in water. Sgt. Casey and Mr. McDonald removed the driver from the sinking vehicle. Sgt. Crowley had, at this stage, contacted the emergency services and had to contend with a large crowd that had gathered on the pier.

Having co-ordinated the matters on the pier, she, along with a local nurse assisted the driver who had been returned to the shore. The man was then removed to Limerick University Hospital.

For their actions

Sergeant John Casey is awarded a Certificate of Bravery and John McDonnell is awarded a Bronze Medal and Certificate of Bravery.

On 16th November, 2016 at approximately 3:30 p.m., Thomastown Garda Station, Co. Kilkenny received a call concerning the safety of a man. A Garda who was in a patrol car and who had been made aware of the situation arrived to the bottom of the Barrow Lane where he saw a car just about to enter the water at the boat slip in Graiguenamanagh. By the time the Garda got to the boat slip, the car was starting to float into the main river channel. The driver’s door was open and the male did not appear to be wearing a seat belt.

The car was starting to sink at an accelerating rate as it went into the river channel and was well out of the reach of the Garda who continued to shout at the man to get out of the car. The man continued to look down and was not responding. The car drifted into the middle of the main river channel and was sinking front first.

A number of people had started to gather and one of them, Eoin Bolger, dived into the water and swam out to the car which by now was in mid-channel, 15 meters or so from the river bank and about 50 yards from the boat slip. As the car and driver became submerged Mr. Bolger reached it, went underwater and pulled the male out of the car.

The male initially resisted his attempts to remove him but then complied with Mr. Bolger’s attempts. Mr. Bolger then surfaced along with the male and pushed him towards the river’s edge. Graiguenamanagh Fire Brigade units were on the scene and assisted in getting the male onto dry land and administered oxygen.

For his actions

Eoin Bolger is awarded a Bronze Medal and Certificate of Bravery

At approximately 10:30 a.m. on 11th August, 2015, a woman and her ex-partner became involved in an argument in the kitchen of a house in Cooline Drive, Cobh, Co. Cork. The man produced a fish filleting knife and in a frenzied attack stabbed the woman several times in the neck, chest, torso and legs. The woman’s daughter, Thea Foster-Lee, on hearing the argument went out to the kitchen.

She intervened to try to save her mother, throwing herself between the attacker and her mother. She put her hand up to stop the knife and as a result she got a serious injury to her hand. She received cuts to her tendons on her right hand and subsequently was left with permanent muscle damage and impairment as a result. Her mother was rushed to Cork University for treatment, where she recovered.

For her actions

Thea Foster-Lee is awarded a Bronze Medal and Certificate of Bravery.

On Saturday 9th July, 2016, at approximately 9:00 p.m., Mark O’Hara and his girlfriend stopped at John Mullins Petrol Station (Gala) in Manorhamilton. The evening was dry with a fresh breeze. Mr. O’Hara entered the busy shop where a number of staff were working. As he was queuing near the door he noticed a girl filling her car on the forecourt when suddenly the nozzle and petrol tank caught fire.

Mr. O’Hara alerted a member of staff to the fire outside and the extinguisher was passed to him. He immediately ran outside towards the pump and car. People were dispersing and jumping into their cars and fleeing the scene. Mr. O’Hara proceeded to extinguish the fire with no thought to his own safety.

But for his action, the pumps and underground tanks could have exploded if the fire had spread. This may have caused much damage and injury including to the housing apartments and nursing home which are situated immediately behind the petrol station.

For his efforts

Mark O’Hara is awarded a Bronze Medal and Certificate of Bravery.

On 6th December, 2015, a group of fourteen scouts led by two Scout Leaders visited Hook Head Lighthouse in Co. Wexford. While most of the scouts and the Scout Leaders went into the cafeteria for lunch, a few of the scouts went out for a walk. A number of scouts made their way out onto the rocks. The scouts were playing on the rocks and were moving in and out of the rocks trying to avoid the waves whilst getting as close as possible to them.

At approximately 2:00 p.m., Philip Byrne and a young girl were running up the rocks away from a wave when they were hit by the water from behind and knocked onto the rocks. Philip Byrne made it onto his feet but the girl was still down. A second bigger wave came and pulled him into the water. He managed to make it to his feet again and then he and Sean Baitson saw the girl sitting on a rock 10 meters out and 20 meters down.

. She was moving on the rock but appeared to be dazed. Philip Byrne, Sean Baitson, Kyle Corrigan and Cody Ridge Grennelle made their way to where the girl was and tried to retrieve the girl from the water. Kyle Corrigan began to lift her when another wave struck, knocking him, Cody and Sean into the water.

This wave also dragged the girl further into the sea. Philip Byrne jumped into the water and managed to reach the girl, who was limp in the water and going in and out of consciousness, before her eyes closed. Both of them were tossed about by the waves before the current took them out beyond the swell to calmer water. Philip Byrne managed to keep her afloat. He was attempting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

He remained with her until the helicopter arrived. Emergency services responded and were on the scene within minutes. Philip and the girl were winched from the water by the Coast Guard personnel. Just as they reached the helicopter, the girl fell from the harness back into the water. She was retrieved immediately and returned to the helicopter where C.P.R. was administered en route to Waterford Regional Hospital.

All four scouts who entered the water with the girl received medical attention at Waterford Regional Hospital for the injuries they sustained while trying to retrieve the girl. They were all released from hospital later that evening following treatment. The girl was subsequently transferred to Crumlin Children’s Hospital on 8th December, 2015 and tragically was pronounced dead at 5:15 p.m. on 10th December, 2015.

For their efforts

Sean Baitson, Philip Byrne, Kyle Corrigan and Cody Ridge Grennelle are each awarded a Bronze Medal and Certificate of Bravery

At approximately 7:00 p.m. on 13th July, 2012, Clonmel Gardaí were alerted to a single vehicle road traffic collision on the main Clonmel to Fethard Road at Rathronan, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. Garda Mark Holden and Garda J.P. O’Sullivan who were in the Clonmel Patrol Car and Garda John Hennessy and Garda Alan Hayes in the District Patrol Van immediately proceeded to the scene.

On arrival, they observed that a single vehicle had collided (side impact) with a tree. The sole occupant was trapped in the vehicle and the petrol tank on the vehicle had caught fire. A large crowd had gathered and were attempting to put the fire out with water and fire extinguishers. The attending Gardaí took command of the incident and made valiant efforts to free the trapped driver.

The aforementioned Gardaí entered the vehicle while it was ablaze, the fire now coming from the front of the vehicle. The fire was brought under control by the Gardaí. At this point, efforts were made to tow the vehicle away from the tree in order to free the driver. Unfortunately, such was the extent of the impact of the vehicle with the tree that the door could not be prised open.

A number of vehicles from Clonmel and Cahir Fire Departments attended the scene. Fire Brigade personnel managed to cut the vehicle and free the driver from the vehicle. On being removed from the vehicle she was unresponsive. She was then conveyed to South Tipperary General Hospital where she made a recovery.

For their efforts

Garda Alan Hayes, Garda John Hennessy, Garda Mark Holden and Garda J.P. O’Sullivan are each awarded a Bronze Medal and Certificate of Bravery.

Note for Mary

Garda John Hennessy received a silver medal and certificate for bravery in 2012.

On Monday, 12th September, Caitriona Lucas along with two colleagues was on a rigid inflatable rescue boat off the Kilkee Coast in Co. Clare. They were out in the waters in an attempt to search for a missing man from Lissycasey, Co. Clare. The man they were searching for had been missing since the previous Friday.

Unfortunately, at approximately 1:00pm the boat Caitriona was crewing was hit by an unexpected wave which caused the boat to flip over and all three occupants were thrown from it.

Ms. Lucas was subsequently airlifted unconscious from the water, but unfortunately, repeated attempts to resuscitate her were not successful. Her two colleagues were eventually rescued and subsequently made full recoveries.

For her efforts

Caitríona Lucas (R.I.P.) is awarded a Posthumous Gold Medal and Certificate of Bravery.