Baltimore drowning victim remembered as a ‘hero’ at funeral

Barry Davis-Ryan died while trying to save his girlfriend from drowning

Barry Davis Ryan (20) was swept out to sea off the west Cork coast after attempting to save his girlfriend Niamh O’Connor. Photograph: Provision

Barry Davis Ryan (20) was swept out to sea off the west Cork coast after attempting to save his girlfriend Niamh O’Connor. Photograph: Provision


West Cork drowning victim Barry Davis-Ryan proved the depth of his love for his girlfriend, Niamh O’Connor, by heroically trying to rescue her when she was swept into the sea and he perished trying to save her, mourners at his funeral were told today.

Danny Kelly, a family friend of both the Ryan and the Davis families, paid a warm and affectionate tribute to the 20-year-old Cork Institute of Technology student who died on June 30th in a drowning near Baltimore.

The tragedy also claimed the lives of his father Barry Ryan (51), and girlfriend, Niamh O’Connor (20).

“He loved his soulmate, the beautiful Niamh with all his heart and he selflessly died trying to save her - Barry, just like his father, was a hero, who, without hesitation, was willing to die for love,” Mr Kelly told mourners at Mr Davis Ryan’s funeral mass at Rath Church outside Baltimore.

Leading the mourners was Mr Davis-Ryan’s mother, Ann Davis, and his siblings, older brother, Arthur and younger sister, Charlotte as well as his grandparents, Arthur and Rose Ryan, and other relatives and countless neighbours from Baltimore where he grew up.

Mr Kelly recalled how close Mr Davis-Ryan was to his family, his parents and his siblings while he also recalled how outgoing and popular he was with both his friends at CIT and workmates at Penneys where he worked part-time, many of whom travelled from Cork city for the funeral.

“They say the good die young and Barry’s passing has touched so many lives. He brought joy, happiness and laughter to everyone he met. Today we want to think him for being a part of all our lives. He loved his family and, in particular, his mother, Ann, and is dear departed dad, Barry Snr.

Speaking on behalf of Ms Davis, who lost her partner and son in the tragedy, Mr Kelly said the family would be forever grateful to so many people for the huge effort they put in to recover her son’s body so he could be buried beside his father, uncle and maternal grandparents at nearby Tullagh cemetery.

“Sometimes great good can come from bad. In a time of much apparent negativity, Barry in death was the key to not only bringing this mighty west Cork community so closely together but also galvanised an entire country and nation such was the collective effort made to bring his body home,” Mr Kelly said.

He paid tribute to everyone who contributed to the eleven-day search from those who made sandwiches and provided accommodation to the near 100 volunteer divers, as well as the Naval Service, garda divers and the Irish Coastguard teams who combed the shoreline for the missing student.

Mr Kelly was particularly grateful to the volunteer West Cork Underwater Search and Rescue team who organised the volunteer dive and he recalled how John Kearney of the group broke the news to the family last Friday that their son and brother’s body had finally been found.

“We will never forget the honest and welcome look on John Kearney’s face when Barry’s body was returned to us with such dignity and such honour as he was brought back in flotilla to Baltimore last Friday,” Mr Kelly said.

“Nor will we ever forget the kindness and empathy of family liaison officer, Garda Pauline Reid who has been a rock of support for the family ever since the tragedy happened,” Mr Kelly before also thanking Baltimore RNLI and the Irish Coastguard teams.

Before the conclusion of the funeral mass celebrated by local priest, Fr Michael Kelleher, Mr Davis-Ryan’s sister, Charlotte (13), read a poem that their father had written for her brother when he was just five years old in which he described him as “a little wizard chap” full of imagination.

After mass, friends of Mr Davis-Ryan stood silently outside the church in the gentle drizzling raid to form a guard of honour before the young man’s remains were brought to Tullagh Cemetery where he was laid to rest beside his father looking out over the waters that surround Baltimore.