Tipperary Gardaí Receive Bravery Awards

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.

 

Ceann Comahirle Séan Ó Fearghaíl with National Bravery Award winners (L-R) Garda Mark Holden, Garda John Hennessy, Garda J.P O'Sullivan and Garda Alan Hayes. Photo: Lensmen

Ceann Comahirle Séan Ó Fearghaíl with National Bravery Award winners (L-R) Garda Mark Holden, Garda John Hennessy, Garda J.P O’Sullivan and Garda Alan Hayes.
Photo: Lensmen

 

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó’ Fearghaíl TD, presented 15 awards in recognition of outstanding acts of bravery at a national ceremony in Farmleigh House today, Friday 20 October 2017.

 

The honours are awarded by Comhairle na Mire Gaile – the Deeds of Bravery Council – which was established in 1947 to provide for suitable recognition by the State of deeds of bravery.

 

The Council, which is chaired by the Ceann Comhairle, includes the Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, the Lord Mayor of Cork, the Garda Commissioner, the President of the Association of Irish Local Government and the Chairman of the Irish Red Cross.

The Council may award medals in either Gold, Silver or Bronze categories. Certificates of recognition may also be awarded. The Council hopes that this high profile ceremony will draw deserved attention to the brave actions of the recipients and heighten awareness of this national awards scheme generally.

 

Congratulating the recipients, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó’ Fearghaíl, said: “The Bravery Awards are the only such awards made by the Irish State to its citizens and it is fitting that these courageous acts of bravery are acknowledged and celebrated. Today we celebrate the actions of very brave people from every corner of the country, who, through their heroic and courageous acts have helped other people. I am honoured to present Bravery Awards to this year’s recipients.

 

In particular, we remember the courage and bravery of Caitriona Lucas, a coast guard volunteer who tragically died during a search off the County Clare coast in September 2016. Catriona’s courage and selfless action on that day says everything about her – her strength of character and spirit and willingness to help others. It is also a reminder of how committed and brave members of our emergency services put their lives on the line on a daily basis to help and protect their communities. Caitriona’s family accepted a Gold Medal for Bravery in recognition of her courage, which is the highest award possible.”

 

“The great sacrifices and acts of bravery made by all of our recipients deserve to be celebrated and recognised and today we thank each of them for their heroism.

Their courage and selflessness are examples to us all. In going to the aid of others at great risk to their own safety, our award winners displayed courage, resolution and determination. They have done themselves, their families, their communities and their country proud and we thank them all.”

 

Among those receiving awards and certificates are:

Among those receiving awards are (details of the acts of bravery are below in Notes to the Editor):

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

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

Eoin Bolger is awarded a Bronze Medal and Certificate of Bravery

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

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

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

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.

 

A number of recipients were also awarded certificates at today’s ceremony. They are:

Darren McMahon is awarded a Certificate of Bravery.

Sergeant John Casey is awarded a Certificate of Bravery

List of citations

CITATION 1

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.

 

CITATION 2

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.

 

CITATION 3

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

 

CITATION 4

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.

 

CITATION 5

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.

 

CITATION 6

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

 

CITATION 7

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.

 

CITATION 8

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.

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