Tears of joy were shed today as the State recognised courageous people for outstanding acts of bravery.
Bernadette Eustace wept as her daughter Cherie was praised for rescuing her grandfather from their smoke-filled home in the early hours of the morning.
The family of Paddy Sean Fogarty was also honoured in memory of the man who drowned trying to save a friend in treacherous waters 21 years ago.
The National Bravery Awards were presented at a civic ceremony in Leinster House by the Ceann Comhairle Seamus Kirk.
“These honours are richly deserved and the awards are a fitting tribute and recognise heroic acts by members of the public as well as members of our emergency services, many of whom without regard for their own personal safety, put their lives on the line to help others,” said Mr Kirk.
“Their families, friends, neighbours, communities and, indeed, all of us should be justifiably proud of their achievements and their extraordinary feats of bravery.”
Off-duty firefighter Thomas Falconer was presented with a gold award for saving a person from a house fire on Mayor’s Walk, Waterford, on September 12, 1999.
Mr Falconer entered the blazing property and crawled through thick smoke and pulled a person he found lying face down and unconscious to safety.
A memorial gold medal was awarded in honour of Mr Fogarty, who drowned on July 26 1989 at Inny Strand, Co Kerry, as he attempted to save Fr Willie Murphy.
Despite treacherous conditions, breaking waves and a powerful swell, Mr Fogarty swam out to Fr Murphy who was in difficulty. Both men drowned.
Elsewhere, Ms Eustace was presented with a silver award after she went upstairs to help her grandad in their burning flat in Bishop Street, Dublin, on July 24 2005.
She bravely shouted for help through a window until firefighters rescued the pair. Ms Eustace spent a month recovering in hospital after the fire.
Silver medals were also presented to Conor Doherty, Ryan Hamill, David McGowan and John Shanahan.
Bronze medals were given to Michael Bracken, Gerard Byrnes, Drew Doherty, garda Niall Doody, Stephen Earles, Sean Moloney, garda Nigel McInaw, and Kieran Stevenson.
Elsewhere, certificates of recognition were awarded to Patricia and Noel McTague and several gardaí, including Edel Convey, John O’Reilly, Enda Hughes (posthumously), Janet O’Neill, Helen McSweeney and James Wade.
The Deeds of Bravery Council – Comhairle na Mire Gaile – was established in 1947 to provide for suitable recognition by the State of deeds of bravery.
Since then, 10 gold medals, 68 silver, 261 bronze, 1,468 certificates, and nine Letters of Commendation have been awarded.
Recent recipients included civilians and members of the Gardaí, emergency services personnel and fire services personnel.