Calls for experienced divers to assist Baltimore search

Up to 40 divers expected to aid search for Barry Davis Ryan in west Cork

Divers planning to resume searches for missing student Barry Davis Ryan off the west Cork coast have appealed for experienced divers to come and assist them in the search.

John Kearney of the West Cork Underwater Search and Rescue team said that several dive clubs have been in touch and at the moment he expects they could have up to 40 divers.

"We have had a fairly good response with divers offering to come from as far afield as Dundalk and Lough Ree – I'm hoping that we will have at least 30-40 divers," he said.

Mr Davis Ryan (20) has been missing since June 30th, when he was swept out to sea trying to rescue his girlfriend, Niamh O’Connor (20).


The couple were walking on the shore near Beacon Point in Baltimore with Mr Davis Ryan's father, Barry Ryan (51), and his younger sister, Charlotte (13), when the tragedy happened.

Both Ms O'Connor and Mr Ryan Snr were recovered shortly afterwards by Baltimore RNLI but died later. They were buried following separate funerals in Co Cork at the weekend.

Bad weather

Since then a major search has been undertaken of the area but it has been hampered by bad weather.

Both Naval Service and Garda divers searched with the west Cork search and rescue team last week before the weather broke at the weekend, limiting searches to onshore searches.

However it is hoped that with the weather expected to settle on Thursday and Friday that diving can resume in the rocky inlet where Mr Davis Ryan was last seen in the water.

Mr Kearney said while there was no problem getting divers this weekend, it was vital to get a good search done on Thursday and Friday as the weather is due to break again at the weekend.

“We’re doing a lot of preparatory work at the moment – the forecast is good for Thursday and Friday so we’re hoping to get plenty of divers in the water on both days,” he said.

“Because of the recent bad weather, we are going to have to re-search the area we already searched last week as items could have moved in the water during the heavy swells.

“That’s why it’s so important to get divers down on Thursday or Friday to carry out an effective search of the area at Eastern Bay where the casualty was last seen.

“If we can’t carry out an effective search on Thursday or Friday and the bad weather comes in this weekend, then we will have to start again next week and cover the same ground again.”

Mr Kearney said that in addition to clubs from up the country, local Cork dive clubs in Cork city, Fermoy and Mallow have also responded with Mallow also bringing sonar equipment.

“We’re hoping to use sonar but the sonar really is better suited to the flatter ground which is further out from shore – the search nearer the shore involves difficult rocky terrain.”

Much of this ground close to the shore is covered in kelp which also makes searching difficult and visibility can also be poor at depths of up to 20m, said Mr Kearney,

A number of local fishermen are also helping out by laying weighted groundlines on the seabed running parallel to the shore which will help guide divers as they comb the area.

Rota system

The entire operation will be closely co-ordinated on a rota system but dealing with depths of up to 20m, most divers should be able to get at least two dives done per day, he said.

“Most divers should manage at least two dives allowing for decompression coming up from 20m and most divers should be able to spend an average of 30-35 minutes on a dive.

“But we only want experienced divers – firstly in terms of the safety issue as it can be dangerous but also in terms of carrying out an effective thorough and proper search.”

Mr Kearney also appealed to people in Baltimore and surrounds who have any spare accommodation to make it available to the volunteer divers coming from all over the country.

And he appealed to the people of west Cork to also help out with refreshments such as soup and sandwiches to help feed the divers heading to Baltimore on Thursday and Friday.

“It would be great if people in west Cork could help out with sandwiches and buns and scones because we are going to have a lot of divers coming down here to help.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times