Body of sea rescue hero found on beach

THE body of a student who drowned in a tragic sea rescue last Sunday was recovered yesterday, close to where the people he helped save were washed ashore.

High tides helped push Jonathan Herlihy’s body onto the rocks near Croghne Head at the eastern end of Owenahincha beach in West Cork. His body was found at 10.30am by a 10-strong search team.

Jonathan, 22, from Glanmire, Co Cork, had been due to graduate with a degree in finance at University College Cork today.

He was swept out to sea with Peter O’Keeffe, 36, from Ovens, Co Cork, after they helped two swimmers struggling in the water. Peter’s body was recovered by a trawler on Tuesday and he was buried on Friday.

Jonathan’s parents Liam and Eileen and his brother Chris had maintained a constant vigil above the beach since last Sunday. Bishop of Cork and Ross Dr John Buckley joined them on Saturday night and led prayers at the water’s edge.

Those prayers were answered yesterday as volunteers were beginning their daily shore search. A group spotted the body on rocks around 300 metres from where Jonathan and Peter had last been seen.

Jonathan’s body had been washed in on high tides and came to rest at an isolated inlet between rocks.

The LE Aoife, which had been coordinating the sea search in Rosscarbery Bay since last Sunday, was alerted and navy divers sped to the scene in a rib to recover Jonathan’s body.

It was brought ashore on the beach where Red Cross ambulance staff carried it ashore on a stretcher. It was identified by family members a short time later.

His body was taken to Cork University Hospital just after 11am and a full post mortem is expected to take place today. Yesterday afternoon, search volunteers, friends and neighbours left make-shift crosses made from seaweed and said prayers.

Jonathan’s UCC classmates will wear white roses on their lapels during today’s graduation as a mark of respect.

A minute’s silence will also be observed at all three graduation ceremonies due to take place today.

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