Heroic Limerick firemen in ‘fingertip’ river rescue save woman from drowning

David Hurley


David Hurley

The heroic actions of Limerick firemen Des Fitzgerald, Peter Murphy and Colin Gleeson have been praised Picture: Adrian Butler

The heroic actions of Limerick firemen Des Fitzgerald, Peter Murphy and Colin Gleeson have been praised Picture: Adrian Butler

THE heroic actions of two Limerick firemen who jumped into the river Shannon to save a woman from drowning have been praised.

Peter Murphy and Des Fitzgerald entered the water near the Clayton Hotel, Steamboat Quay shortly after 4.30am last Sunday seconds after after the women went “sub-surface” as they approached her on the Fireswift rescue boat which was manned by Cox’n Colin Gleeson.

“As we approached the casualty we saw that she had gone sub-surface so that left us with no option but to enter the water and it literally was a finger-tip save,” said Peter Murphy, 40, who has been a fireman for 18 years.

“She had gone sub-surface with her hands over her head and Des caught one hand and I caught the other and we managed to get her into the boat and back to safety,” he added.

“With river calls the adrenalin is running throughout the whole crew –  getting into your suit, driving to the call – but it’s what we train for and it’s brilliant when we get someone back and really everyone plays a part,” he said. 

The woman, who is aged in her mid-20s, was taken to St Michael slipway where she was treated by paramedics from the National Ambulance Service who were also deployed after the alarm was raised.

Gardai from Henry Street also assisted during Saturday night’s rescue operation and it’s understood the woman is recovering from her ordeal.

Peter O’Toole, acting station officer with Limerick City Fire and Rescue service, says but for the actions of the three firemen on the night, the woman would most likely have drowned.

He explained the three firemen were on the water within four minutes of the emergency call being made and that things unfolded very quickly after that.

“I was on Shannon Bridge and and we are able to quickly spot the casualty and get torches on her and once the boat (Fireswift) launched it was a case of guiding them out with the torch lights,” he said.

“Literally all I could see was one of the guys jumping off the boat which is very unusual and what we didn’t realise at the time is that the two lads had to enter the water because they had gone so far downstream,” he told The Leader.

Specially trained SRT crews from Limerick City Fire and Rescue service attended more than 50 river calls during 2017 – making Limerick Fire Station one of busiest stations for such incidents in Europe.


If you have been affected by the above story, contact any of the following organisations: Aware (1800 80 48 48), The Samaritans (116 123) or Pieta House (1800 247 247).