Monday, June 01, 2020

[timgcapimported=A lifebuoy at the Regional Park, Ballincollig. Picture: Denis Minihane.]2611b3cb-9c55-4237-8b40-714c597395e8__3a68e18f-991e-4e5e-af33-35070cd40ed8.jpg[/timgcapimported]

Another water safety warning has been issued after two girls were rescued after getting into difficulty while swimming in the River Lee.

It was the latest in a series of near-tragedies in less than five days, after four men were rescued at Inchydoney last week, and two children were rescued in Galway and in Ballybunion after being swept out to sea.

The girls were among a large group of teenagers who had gathered in the Regional Park in Ballincollig, west of Cork city, on Saturday afternoon as temperatures soared. Several were swimming downstream of to the park’s damaged weir when the alarm was raised just before 4pm when two girls got into difficulty.

One was spotted in the water facedown. Onlookers threw a lifebuoy into the water to help one as a local teenage boy with lifesaving skills went into the water to bring the other girl to safety.

The lifesaving teen, who did not want to be identified, said he completed a lifesaving skills course recently but never thought he’d have to use his skills so soon.

Emergency services were also alerted but the girls were already safely ashore.

Both were taken to hospital by relations for observation. They are expected to make a full recovery.

Gardaí arrived a short time later and cleared the park of teenagers.

The incident has prompted a water safety warning from Cork City Council, which manages the park, urging people not to swim in the river near the weir, or a little downriver beyond an area known as ‘pebble beach’.

A spokesman said ‘no swimming’ signs have been erected at this location for several years because of the treacherous currents on that stretch. It is particularly prone to fast flows and dangerous currents if the ESB discharges water from its hydroelectric dam at Inniscarra a few kilometres upstream.

Locals familiar with the river said when such dam discharges occur, vast volumes of fast-flowing water can arrive at the weir area of the Regional Park minutes later without warning, catching people unaware. They also said the flow of the river has changed since the partial collapse of the weir several years ago.

There was another near-miss in this location on Wednesday when a teenage girl crossing the river got into difficulty.

Meanwhile, a woman who decided to have a sandwich roll by the river Boyne in Drogheda, Co Louth, ended up rescuing another woman who had gone into the water.

With the help of a life ring and other members of the public, Tara Poleon was able to get the woman out of the water.

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