Six Donegal men are to be presented with awards, two of them posthumously, honouring their brave actions in saving the lives of others.
They are among 26 rescuers nationwide being recognised at the Irish Water Safety’s National Awards Ceremony in Dublin Castle tomorrow afternoon.
The Donegal heroes are: Jason McClay (19) from Kinnegoe, Buncrana; Patrick Moss (20) of Rosbeg; John Patton, Hugh-John McGonigle, the late PJ Patton and the late Larry McGonigle, all of Ballyshannon.
When Jason McClay heard tyres screeching and a crash at around midnight last June 2, he did not hesitate, Jumping down a 40-foot ravine, he plunged into the Crana river, pulled a young man from the wreck, helped a young woman out of the water and, in all, helped save the lives of all four of the car’s occupants.
The last four award recipients are receiving very belated recognition for their brave deeds in June 1955, as their story has only recently come to light. When a Mr McCusker got into difficulties trying to retrieve his fishing punt, John Patton (now 78), Hugh-John McGonigle (now also 78), the late PJ Patton and the late Larry McGonigle all came to his aid. Because of the strong currents and the rough conditions, it took them four attempts and an hour to get to him, bring him out of the water and safely onto a boat.
Mr John Perry TD, Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation will present the SEIKO Just in Time Rescue Awards at the ceremony tomorrowed. He said: “Tragically an average of 140 drownings occur in Ireland every year and although that’s 140 too many, the figure would be even higher but for the dramatic efforts of these individuals who saved others from drowning and the ongoing work of volunteers teaching swimming and rescue skills.”