The first search team left Baltimore at 5am yesterday in the search for Barry Davis Ryan, a 21-year-old who had just finished his first year in a BA in engineering at Cork Institute of Technology and who was working in Penneys in Cork. Mr Davis Ryan was going out with Ms O’Connor.
The job was a family tradition, the store chain having been founded by his grandfather, Arthur, while his father worked in Penneys as an executive.
Ms O’Connor, a 21-year-old from Glanmire, who was studying at University College Cork, also worked alongside Mr Davis Ryan in Cork.
It emerged yesterday that the four-strong party — the other being Mr Ryan’s teenage daughter, Charlotte Davis Ryan — may have been fishing rather than walking when tragedy struck.
It is understood that Ms O’Connor may have been knocked into the water first by a wave, and Mr Davis Ryan went to save her.
It is understood that Mr Ryan asked then his daughter to raise the alarm, and that conscious of the lack of mobile phone signal in the area, she ran up the hill towards the Beacon, quickly borrowed a phone from some tourists and made the call. Valentia Coast Guard confirmed yesterday that the emergency call was made from a foreign mobile number.
By then, Mr Ryan had entered the water in an attempt to rescue his son and his girlfriend. The time between the emergency call being received at 6.36pm and the lifeboats arriving at the scene at 6.50pm and taking Mr Ryan and Ms O’Connor from the water was described as “seriously fast” by Valentia Coast Guard.
One of the doctors at the pier in Baltimore, Jason Van Der Velde of the West Cork Rapid Response Team, said the efforts of the rescue crews on Tuesday night were “valiant” and “phenomenal”.
Of the RNLI crews, he said: “They are a credit to the community.”
The search is expected to begin again at first light this morning.