Baltimore drowning victim laid to rest in Co Cork

Niamh O’Connor (20) died when a wave swept her out to sea on Tuesday evening


A young couple who died in a freak accident in West Cork earlier this week were soul mates who radiated happiness when they were together, the requiem mass of one of the victims heard on Saturday.

Niamh O’Connor (20) from Glanmire, Co Cork was swept out to sea by a freak wake in Baltimore on Tuesday evening. Her boyfriend Barry Davis Ryan and his father Barry Ryan died as they made valiant efforts to save her.

Today at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Glounthaune Co Cork, Paul O’Connor, father of Niamh, remembered his outgoing, vibrant daughter.

“From the moment she was born we used to say that Niamh was going to turn out to be a stunner. She was beautiful inside and out. Niamh lived her short life to the full, refusing no invitation to party. I honestly believe my Niamh would go to the opening of an envelope.”

Mr O’Connor said it was very evident that Barry was the “love of Niamh’s life”.

“He idolised her and she idolised him. He was her soul mate. Niamh we love you and as the song states ‘this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.’ We love you always and forever.”

Among the offertory gifts at the mass was a silk rose that Barry gave Niamh to celebrate Valentines Day.

Chief celebrant at the mass, Fr John Heinhold, said Niamh would now have the silk rose forever. Barry had presented it to her on February 14th last after the UCC student joked about fresh roses only lasting two weeks.

Other offertory gifts included a menu for KC’s takeaway in Douglas on the southside of Cork city. Fr Heinhold told the hundreds of mourners that although Niamh didn’t drive she often got her fast food of choice delivered by taxi.

Other offertory gifts included Niamh’s favourite sweets Polo Mints and a Harry Potter Book.

Fr Heinhold said Niamh’s parents Paul and Catherine and her sister Clodagh had been plunged in to darkness following the news of her tragic passing.

“Last Tuesday was just another day. All seemed normal. Life was carrying out just as it should be. Then out of the blue in an instant everything changed forever. Three people’s lives ended. Niamh was twenty years old and full of life. Beautiful, intelligent and so full of potential. She was just beginning to open up to life and life was just beginning to open up to her.”

Fr Heinhold said tragic death, which is always sudden and unexpected, is like a blackout.

“One minute the sun is shining. Next minute it is dark night. Without the slightest warning we are plunged in to an impenetrable darkness. The world is turned upside down. We felt and feel lost.”

One of Niamh’s favourite songs Wings by Birdy was played before the mass.

Her cousin Louise also read a poem recalling all her happy childhood members with the “calm and chilled” Niamh. She touched on the great love between Barry and Niamh.

“We must all remember Barry Niamh’s true gent

Barry became the apple of Niamh’s eye

They clicked and were far from shy

So in love a lovely girl and guy.”

Niamh was laid to rest at St Catherine’s Cemetery in Kilcully, Co Cork. A guard of honour was provided by staff at Penney’s where Niamh worked part time.

Meanwhile, the search continues for Barry Davis Ryan, who is still missing.

Around 60 people, including many local volunteers, are involved in the search, including naval, garda and volunteer divers, the Coast Guard, cliff top search teams, the Coast Guard helicopter and RNLI Lifeboats.