Friends’ swim in lake ended in tragic drowning

An inquest heard yesterday of how a swim in the lakes of Killarney for two friends on a warm afternoon last summer ended in tragedy.

Student Cian O’Donoghue, aged 19, of Gortacoosh, Glenflesk, Co Kerry, drowned after failing to make it to the shore as he attempted to swim from an island in Lough Léin, on Jul 13.

Brendan O’Grady was among a group of friends who went to an area known locally as the Sandy Bottom that day. At around 3.30pm, he and Mr O’Donoghue decided to check out some islands in the lake for camping.

He said they first swam to Reen Head, in shallow water, and then to Heron Island. After a while, they decided to swim back about 100m.

Mr O’Grady said they were swimming side by side when he started to run out of energy, about a third of the way across. He told Mr O’Donoghue he was turning back, but Cian, who was about a length ahead and not struggling, kept going.

Mr O’Grady said when he had barely made it back to the island, he looked around and could not see Mr O’Donoghue. He became worried because he knew his friend would not have made it to the shore.

He and others went looking for Mr O’Donoghue and could not find him. They alerted the emergency services and a coast guard helicopter was called to the scene.

The body was recovered at 7.30pm in 3m-4m of water by water rescue services, the inquest was told.

An autopsy by Dr Margot Bolster, the assistant state pathologist, found the cause of death to be acute cardio-respiratory failure due to drowning.

A jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

Coroner Terence Casey paid tribute to the Killarney and Ballybunion water rescue services, all volunteers, who found the body in a short time. He also thanked gardaí for the efficient way in which they dealt with the tragic situation.

“I wish to extend my deepest sympathy to the O’Donoghue family, who I know personally,’’ he added.

Inspector Aileen Magner also sympathised with the family and with Mr O’Grady.

Jury foreman Paudie Linehan joined in the expressions of sympathy.


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