Baltimore victims are related to Penneys founder

Arthur Ryan’s son drowned in Cork tragedy while his grandson remains missing at sea

Barry Ryan (51), who drowned off the coast of Baltimore in Co Cork, and his son Barry Davis Ryan (20), who is still missing at sea, are the son and grandson of Penneys founder Arthur Ryan.

The two men went into the water to rescue Barry Davis Ryan’s girlfriend Niamh O’Connor after she fell or was swept into the sea.

A director of the company, Barry Ryan was born in Dublin but moved to Baltimore, where he lived with his partner, Ann Davis.

Their three children, Arthur, Barry and Charlotte, all grew up in the west Cork village.


Barry Ryan’s father, Arthur Ryan (79), opened the first Penneys shop on Mary Street in Dublin.

He later expanded the company into the UK, where it opened its first store in Derby in 1974.

Today the company has more than 190 stores across the UK, trading under the Primark name.

Arthur Ryan is married to Alma Carroll, a singer who represented Ireland in the Eurovision in 1977.

Niamh O’Connor

The body of Niamh O’Connor (20) was recovered from the sea along with that of his father on Tuesday evening.

Ms O’Connor comes from a well known family in Glanmire, near Cork city.

Her grand-uncle Bertie Óg Murphy played hurling for Cork in the 1980s, while her grand-uncle Tadhg Murphy played football for the county during the same period.

Ms O’Connor was the eldest daughter of Paul and Catherine O’Connor.

She is survived by her parents and her younger sister, Clodagh.

Penneys statement

Penneys issued a statement today confirming that all three victims of the tragedy worked for the company.

The statement said: “All were much loved and respected colleagues and our thoughts are with their families at this very difficult time.”

Both Barry Davis Ryan and Niamh O'Connor worked part-time for Penneys.

Mr Davis Ryan had just completed his first-year of engineering at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), while Ms O'Connor was a second-year social science student at University College Cork (UCC).

Dr Barry O’Connor, vice-president for academic affairs and registrar at CIT, extended his sincere condolences to both the Ryan and O’Connor families, as well as to the wider Baltimore community.

“Barry Davis Ryan was a first-year engineering student in Cork Institute of Technology and his loss will be deeply felt by his classmates and the wider engineering faculty in CIT,” said Dr O’Connor.

UCC response

A spokesman for UCC also sympathised with both the O’Connor and Ryan families.

The spokesman said that a book of condolence would be opened and flags would fly at half mast as a mark of respect to those whose lives were lost.

In a statement, UCC said: “On behalf of our community here in UCC, we would like to express our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Niamh O’Connor, a second-year UCC social science student who has passed away.

“Barry Ryan and Barry Davis Ryan and their family and friends are similarly very much in our thoughts at this time. Counselling supports are available throughout the summer and beyond should they be needed by students or staff.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times