Man who died after getting into difficulty at lake in Co Laois named locally

Michael Timmins (60s) got into difficulty while swimming at Derryounce Lake in Portarlington on Saturday afternoon

A man who died while swimming at a lake in the midlands over the weekend has been named locally as Michael Timmins.

The victim, aged in his 60s, got into difficulty while swimming at the man-made Derryounce Lake in Portarlington, Co Laois, on Saturday afternoon.

It is understood he was single and from a well-known family in Portlaoise, Co Laois, where he lived.

Monsignor John Byrne, of St Peter and St Paul’s parish in Portlaoise, said the town was in shock at the “very tragic accident”.


“Michael’s family are an old established Portlaoise family, they are well known,” he said.

“There is a lot of shock, really. The little bit of fine weather we get, and a man just going for a swim... it is just tragic.”

Gardaí and emergency services were alerted to the incident at about 3.30pm on Saturday. The victim was taken from the water and removed from the scene by ambulance to Portlaoise General Hospital.

He was pronounced dead a short time later. Gardaí said they are treating the matter as a tragic accident at this time and a file will be prepared for the coroner.

Aidan Mullins, a local councillor in Portarlington, said Derryounce Lake, a former bog owned by Bord na Móna which has been transformed into a recreational amenity with trails, attracts large numbers during warm weather.

“You get small kids, parents in paddling, and a good few swimmers,” he said.

“There could be up to 200 people there on some days. It is a big attraction, including for people who come from outside Portarlington. It is a lovely spot.”

Mr Mullins said the lake — run by a local community development organisation on lease from Bord na Móna — was not designed for swimming.

But, he said, it is popularly used as a swimming spot in warmer temperatures.

“There is no lifeguard on duty, and people swim at their own risk. To be honest, the development association doesn’t have the resources for a lifeguard, the problem would be funding.

“It remains to be seen what went wrong, but this is very unfortunate.”

Mr Mullins added: “I would encourage people to go out and enjoy the facility but not to use the lake for swimming.”

The incident on Saturday is the third swimming-related death in Ireland over the past week.

A 14-year-old boy died while swimming at Burrow Beach in Sutton, Co Dublin, on Monday. On Tuesday, a man aged in his 40s died after getting into difficulties while swimming at Fanore Beach, Co Clare.

Brian Hutton

Brian Hutton is a freelance journalist and Irish Times contributor