Children among those honoured for bravely saving others from drowning

‘I was in my pyjamas, I ran down the stairs and I dived in. I knew . . . they needed help’

Clodagh Hayes (centre) who was awarded a bronze medal for bravery after she saved a boy from the river Lee with Krista Valteris (left) and Keisha Moloney from Carlow who were awarded certificates of  bravery after they rescued and saved a boy from a pond. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Clodagh Hayes (centre) who was awarded a bronze medal for bravery after she saved a boy from the river Lee with Krista Valteris (left) and Keisha Moloney from Carlow who were awarded certificates of bravery after they rescued and saved a boy from a pond. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

Two girls who helped rescue a six-year-old boy who got into difficulty in a pond in Co Carlow were among those honoured at the National Bravery Awards in Dublin on Friday.

Keisha Moloney (12) and Krista Valteris (13) from Tullow received certificates of bravery at the ceremony in Farmleigh House, where 19 others were also recognised.

The girls were approached by two parents who were concerned about their three missing sons in Gortnahowan in August 2017. They began to help with the search when they heard screaming coming from a swamp-like area.

The girls discovered a six-year-old boy was in severe difficulty in a pond while his two older brothers were in a distressed state trying to help him.

Ms Valteris, aged 12 at the time, jumped into the pond and recovered the boy while Ms Moloney helped revive him and called the gardaí. The young boy made a full recovery.

“When he went fully under, I just dived in. I’m ok at swimming and I looked for his arm and grabbed him up. I got someone’s t-shirt then and wiped the muck from his face. I wasn’t worried, I just knew I had to jump in,” Ms Valteris told The Irish Times.

“It was scary knowing that he might not survive it. I’m just honoured that we got the opportunity to come here,” she added.

In distress

Martin Cullinane, from Co Cork who rescued two young boys who had got into difficulty in a local harbour, was awarded a bronze medal and certificate of bravery.

Martin Cullinane with his bronze medal presented for bravery. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins
Martin Cullinane with his bronze medal presented for bravery. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

He was in his apartment in Mariners Quay, Passage West, last April, when he heard shouting coming from the water outside. He looked out the window and saw two boys, aged six and seven, in distress in the water.

“We live right beside the water and we always hear kids out there but this was a different kind of noise and I knew somebody was in trouble,” he said.

“I was in my pyjamas, I ran down the stairs and I dived in. I knew those two kids weren’t coming out on their own, they needed help.

“I went out for one, got him back to land and then back out for the second fella, who was gone further.”

The emergency services were contacted immediately and the boys were taken to Cork University Hospital where they made a full recovery.

“They couldn’t swim, they had no intention of going into the water but they ended up there, they were messing about and fell,” Mr Cullinane added.

“Nearly all the awards handed out here today had to do with water. We live on an island and the most important thing is to learn how to swim.”

‘It all happened so fast’

Clodagh Hayes (15), from Glanmire, Co Cork, was awarded a bronze medal and certificate of bravery after she helped rescue a boy from the River Lee in July 2017.

Ms Hayes, who had just finished training at the Lee Rowing Club entered the water and swam the young boy back to shore with a life buoy. He made a full recovery.

“It all happened so fast, you just didn’t have time to think or feel the shock. It was just pure adrenaline and a natural reaction really,” she said.

Andrew Johnston from Armagh was also awarded a bronze medal and certificate of bravery after he entered the water to rescue a woman from a car that had entered a small river at Carrickmore, Saint Johnston, Co Donegal and turned upside down on impact with a river bank on the evening of July 15th 2017.

Andrew Johnston with the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl and Mary Kennedy after he was awarded a bronze medal for bravery. Photograph: Maxwell’s
Andrew Johnston with the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl and Mary Kennedy after he was awarded a bronze medal for bravery. Photograph: Maxwell’s

The driver was able to free himself and stood on top of the vehicle shouting for help. Mr Johnston, who was passing, rescued the unconscious woman from the vehicle. Paramedics from the Northern Ireland Fire Service arrived and brought her along with the driver to Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry. Both made full recoveries.

Bronze medals went too to Paul McInerney from Kildare and Eugene Duff from Dublin who rescued a man being pulled out to sea by a current while they were on holidays in Kilmuckridge, Co Wexford, on August 10th 2017. They grabbed hold of him and brought him back to the shore with great difficulty, as he was having a heart attack. They performed CPR on the man but tragically, the man died.

Eugene Duff and Paul McInerney who were each awarded a bronze medal for their bravery. Photograph: Maxwell’s
Eugene Duff and Paul McInerney who were each awarded a bronze medal for their bravery. Photograph: Maxwell’s

The National Bravery Awards were established in 1947 to enable the State to recognise exceptional acts of courage, in cases where people risk their own safety to protect others.