List of Gold Medal Recipients since 1947

NamesCountyDate Medal Received
Brendan MerrifieldDonegal1956
Sgt. Liam MaguireMonaghan23rd June 1992
Xavier MurrayMonaghan23rd June 1992
Nigel DuncanDonegalMarch 1997
Michael Heffernan (Memorial)Mayo9th May 2007
Joseph BarrettMayo9th May 2007
Peter O’Keeffe (Memorial)Cork9th May 2007
Jonathon Herlihy (Memorial)Cork9th May 2007
Paddy Sean Fogarty (Memorial)Kerry25th September 2010
Thomas FalconerWaterford25th September 2010
Ricky Osagie (Memorial)Dublin28th October 2016
Caitríona LucasClare20th October 2017

Brendan Merrifield

At about 8 p.m. on the 14th June, 1956, a nineteen-year-old girl went for a walk alone along the seashore at a point known as the ” Roguey,” Bundoran. Having paddled in the sea for a while she then climbed on to a mound or island situated at this place about 30 feet above high-water mark. The east side of this island where the girl seated herself is precipitous and could be described as sheer cliff on its face, with footholds near the water’s edge.

The seas around are tidal. Having removed her coat and sandles she sat on the grass near the edge of the cliff and remained there for about an hour. She then noticed that she was the only person on the island and decided to return home. As she was standing up, she slipped on the grassy slope and fell over the edge of the cliff. She screamed as she lost her balance and fell into the tide below, where there was then a depth of about 35 to 40 feet of water, the tide being almost full at the time.

Just at this time, Brendan Merrifield, aged fourteen years, a student of the Vocational School, Ballyshannon, arrived on the scene with a friend. They had cycled to Bundoran for a swim in the night tide. Having climbed on to the island at Roguey they were making their way to the diving board 30 feet lower down on the strand level when both heard the girl’s screams.

On seeing the girl struggling in the water Merrifield immediately divested himself of his boots, coat and pullover and dived to the rescue. He swam to the girl, caught hold of her and succeeded in swimming with her to a ledge of rock at the base of the island. He dragged her to safety on this ledge. She was then unconscious.

In the meantime his friend summoned help and. several persons arrived to assist Merrifield and the girl ashore. The girl was in an exhausted condition when taken ashore, and suffered from superficial injuries. She was brought to hospital where she was detained for some weeks.

The sea at this point is almost permanently out of bounds for swimmers, and in the day time beach guards are on duty to prevent swimming, except in the most suitable tide conditions. Merrifield was well aware of the risk involved as, apart from the dangerous tides in the inlet, the sea is rocky and unsafe for diving.

There is no doubt but that Merrifield risked his own life in saving the girl. Without hesitation he jumped from a height of 30 feet into a strong, rough and treacherous tide in effecting a successful and timely rescue.