Three American tourists were thrown from their horse-drawn carriage on a tour of the Lakes of Killarney which saw their carriage teeter over the edge of a cliff.
It is understood the jarvey, named locally as Hugh O’Donoghue, made heroic efforts to ensure the dramatic situation did not turn to tragedy.
The incident occurred in the heart of the Killarney National Park at the spot known as the Garden Quay, which rises over Lough Leane.
It is a popular spot for jarveys to stop to allow their passengers take pictures of the Killarney lake and mountains, its wildlife and the spire of St Mary’s Cathedral rising across the lake.
It is understood that the horse suddenly began to back towards the cliff edge and the three Americans on board were thrown out — as the jarvey carriage teetered over the edge of the cliff.
Mr O’Donoghue, who normally works in a top-class hotel, was injured trying to control the horse and carriage.
The tourists were taken by ambulance to Kerry University Hospital in Tralee and were released later that day.
Mr O’Donoghue, the most seriously injured was released from hospital five days after the incident.
It is understood he suffered injuries to his shoulder and his back.
It is not known why the horse began reversing towards the lake but may have been spooked by the activity on board with passengers straining to take pictures.
It was Mr O’Donoghue’s experience with horses saved the day and prevented the incident from being much worse, according to preliminary findings.
Pat Dawson, regional manager with the NPWS which manages the Killarney National Park, said the park was awaiting a full report into the incident. Both the owner of the carriage, who is the permit holder, and the driver, would be interviewed.
The carriage had pulled in off the route to facilitate people taking photographs and it appeared the horse backed and slipped, and the occupants fell out.
“This is a very rare occurrence in the national park in Killarney,” Mr Dawson said.
The horse had not been put down, as was rumoured locally, but was under the care of a vet and doing well.
Dozens of jarvey carriages ply their trade within the park and hundreds of journeys are undertaken each day between the various beauty spots.
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