Contributed by Dennis_Ahern
Date: August 24 1910
The Cork Examiner, 24 August 1910
CORK RIVER TRAGEDY
MAN'S SAD DEATH
AN EXCITING RESCUE
FIREMAN'S PLUCKY CONDUCT
An occurrence of a highly exciting character took place in the river above Parliament Bridge yesterday morning. A youth named Patrick Casey was proceeding along Sullivan's Quay about nine o'clock on his way to school when his attention was attracted by shouting from one of the windows of a house in his throughfare. He immediately looked in the direction from which the shouting came, and he was then informed by a man named Quinn from the uppermost window in the house that a man had fallen into the river at the Grand Parade side. The youth promptly rushed to the Fire Station and raised the alarm. At the time Captain Hutson and Fireman Timothy Ahern were engaged at some work in the outer portion of the station premises, and they rushed to Sullivan's Quay with a lifebuoy. At the time the tide was ebbing fast, and there was a great rush of water towards Parliament Bridge. Nothing could be seen of the man in the water except his head, and he was being carried by the strong flow of water down the river by the wall of the park on the Grand Parade side. Some people who were proceeding to business along the South Mall and Grand Parade were not aware that a man had fallen into the water, and Fireman Ahern, without divesting himself of his clothes or removing his boots jumped into the river at the Sullivan's Quay side and swam in the direction of the drowning man. He reached the drowning man as he was sinking for the second time. In the meantime Captain Hutson had run along Sullivan's Quay, over Parliament Bridge, and onto the Grand Parade with a lifebuoy. Fireman Ahern and the drowning man were carried towards Parliament Bridge, and at one time it looked as if both would lose their lives. They disappeared under the water for a short time, but on reaching that part of the river near the balcony which extends from Mr. J. Meehan's premises, and the rere [sic] portion of portion of Dr. T. Callaghan's residence, Captain Hutson was able to throw a lifebuoy to them. A ladder was also lowered from Mr. Meehan's premises and Fireman Ahern was able to hold his charge until a boat manned by Thomas Collins and Michael Carrol appeared on the scene. After an amount of difficulty the rescuer and rescued man were taken into the boat and brought to the slip.
It was found that the rescued man, whose name was subsequently ascertained to be William Hoare, a pensioner, and his age 71 years, was in a collapsed condition as the result of his immersion. Efforts were made by Mr. Wm. Burnham, of the Munster Swimming Association, who was attracted to the quayside by the shouting, to revive him, but it became apparent, owing to his age, that he was too far gone to succeed in rendering him any help. The ambulance was then requisitioned, and in it he was conveyed by Firemen Peter Murphy and Timothy Ahern, who did not appear to have suffered to any extent from his stay in the water, to the South Infirmary. On arrival at this institution it was, however found that life was extinct.
The plucky conduct of Fireman Ahern deserves warm commendation, and his rescue under such thrilling and daring circumstancesóboth men having been carried about eighty yards by the strong current prevailing at the timeóevoked general admiration for the gallantry and self-sacrifice it reflected. It is to be hoped that his brave action will be recognized in the proper quarter.
At half-past three yesterday afternoon Mr. Coroner William Murphy, solr., held an inquest at the South Infirmary on the body of the deceased. Head Constable Kirby and Sergeant Jacques represented the authorities.
Julia Riordan, 55 High street, stated that the deceased, Wm. Hoare, was her uncle. He was a bachelor and was between 71 and 72 years of age. Deceased was a pensioner of Captain Rushbrooke's, and was residing at High street with her for some time. He was in the habit of going out early in the morning to Mass. Sometimes he used to get a little queer since he had a paralytic stroke last May. His speech was queer sometimes, but no more than that. Witness saw him that (Tuesday) morning at about seven o'clock when she came down stairs. He was then coming in out of the yard and asked witness to open the door for him. Witness asked where he was going, and he said for a walk. Witness didn't open the door then, but went to the kitchen to get the breakfast. Deceased went into the parlour and lay down on the lounge. In a short time witness brought him out his breakfast. He took the tea, but refused the bread and butter, and in a short time when witness came in again she found he hadn't touched the tea, but he was sitting down all right. Witness then went upstairs and when she came down again he had gone out. Witness went to inquire about him subsequently, and called at her sister's place, where he often called and spent a good deal of his time, but found he hadn't been there.
The CoroneróDid he make any complaint of feeling ill? No. The doctor was with him on Monday. Was there any talk about his going into hospital? He was to go in on Monday, but he didn't like to go. Dr. Cantilion ordered him in. To Head Constable KirbyóWitness said that deceased was very ill last May, when he got the stroke of paralysis, and one of his arms was paralysed since.
Mrs. Ellen Byrne, another niece of the deceased, residing at 97, High street, gave evidence of bringing Dr. Cantilion to see him on Monday. The doctor ordered him into the union hospital but he would not go there. He had been in there a fortnight before, and was discharged, and he would not go a second time. The CoroneróWhy? Because of the clothes he got to wear, and he said that a second patient was put into the bed with him. In reply to further questions, witness said there did not appear to be anything wrong with deceased on Monday. When the doctor saw him he said that there would be a bed vacant in the South Infirmary in a week, and deceased said that he would prefer to go there and he would wait. Deceased had been in the North Infirmary also for some time. Since the seizure of paralysis in May deceased was complaining that he would get a second stroke and that he would fall. He never said anything that would lead anyone to believe that he would do himself an injury. Witness would say to him to have patience and that it was all the will of God, and he used to ramble sometimes. He had never been sick in his life up to the illness in May. He used to be constantly praying, and was a very religious old man, and added witness, "a very good uncle to me."
To a JuroróWitness said that when deceased went to the Union Hospital he was put into a bed by himself, and there was no second patient in the bed with him at any time that witness saw him. He said when he came out that he liked the Union Hospital better than the North Infirmary. It was Dr. Magner ordered him into the North Infirmary. The CoroneróYou seem to have taken every care possible of him. You could have done no more.
Patrick Casey, a schoolboy, living at 25, Sullivan's Quay, said that that (Tuesday) morning at a quarter past 9 he saw a man struggling in the river near the slip at the Grand Parade side. He didn't see the man falling in, but he was trying to save himself, and was paddling with his hand, and his head was appearing over the water. Witness shouted for help, and Fireman Ahern came running out of the fire station and jumped into the river immediately. He swam across the river and caught the man in the water, and after some time another man came up with a boat, and both of them got into the boat. To a Jurorówitness said that the fireman jumped into the river with his clothes and boots on just as he ran out of the station. The deceased was in the water about ten minutes before the fireman took him out.
Fireman Timothy Ahern said that about a quarter-past nine that morning he was in the station, and heard the previous witness shout for help and that there was a man in the river. Witness ran out at once. He had his tunic in his hand, and when he saw the man in the river he threw away his tunic and jumped in. He swam across to the other side of the river and caught hold of the deceased. They drifted away down the river until they got to the wall near Dr. Callaghan's house. They were in deep water all the time, and witness in making a sudden turn to try and get to the wall lost his grip of the deceased, who sank. Witness dived after him and brought him up again. The man sank again, and witness brought him up once more. In about six minutes a boat came along and he got the deceased into it. The deceased was gasping for breath all the time, and witness got him into the boat alive.
The CoroneróWas he attempting at any time to save himself? No, he was quite passive. The only part of his body I could see was his head. He sank, and I had to dive twice for him. Was it deep water at the time? It was fairly deep, about eight feet. To further questions, witness said they brought the man to the slip on the Sullivan's Quay side, where the ambulance was waiting, in which deceased was immediately driven to the infirmary. Replying to a juror, witness said he had saved two lives in the river there already. Several members of the jury said that the conduct of the witness was very brave. Mr. Murray (a juror) thought there should be some fund to compensate people who performed brave deeds of this kind. This was not the first time that Fireman Ahern had made gallant attempts to save life. There was money thrown away in the Corporation and other places, that would be better spent in compensating men like Ahern.
The CoroneróI am sure he didn't do it for money and it is all the more creditable to him. Another witness said they should strongly recommend the witness for his bravery, and he was sure if he was brought under the notice of the proper authorities they would recognise it. This man had saved life twice, and had got no recognition. The Coroner said he would find out the local secretary of the Royal Humane Society and communicate with him. Of course he joined in the expression of feeling which the jury had mentioned, that the action of the fireman was extremely brave, and they were all proud of him. For acts like these, no money would compensate, but the satisfaction of having done his best to save life was the sufficient reward of a brave man. They were sorry that the attempt on this present occasion didn't result in the saving of life, but that was not the fireman's fault. His conduct was admirable, and they were all proud of him (hear, hear).
Dr. Stephen Barry gave evidence that life was extinct when the deceased reached the infirmary. They tried artificial respiration for half an hour, but the case was hopeless. Asphyxia due to drowning was the cause of death. The CoroneróDid the man present any appearance of having got a stroke of paralysis before he got into the water? I could not tell.
This concluded the evidence and the Coroner said they had no direct evidence of how the deceased got into the water, and it would be a fair assumption to suggest that he must have fallen in through the bars on the quay. He might have been leaning against them or sitting down, and in his weak condition of health he might have fallen in. Even without getting a second stroke of paralysis at all he might have fallen in this way. There appeared to have been every care taken of him. His niece had brought two doctors to attend him. He was not well apparently when he left home, but there was not a shred of evidence that he went with the intent of doing himself any harm. The jury found a verdict of accidental drowning.
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