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.