A Longford teenager was this week hailed a hero after he dived into the river Shannon to save a drowning man.
Fourteen-year-old Lanesboro student, Eugene Maguire courageously jumped into the river last Friday week (June 3) to rescue the man, who had gotten into difficulties while out swimming.
Eugene, who was with a group of friends on the Co Roscommon side of the river, told of how he suddenly heard shouts of ‘help’ from a man who was trying to make it safely back to shore.
“We saw that he was trying to cross one side of the river to the other, but then he started shouting. We were in a bit of shock at first, but I just shouted to my friends that I would jump in,” he said.
As Eugene desperately tried to reach the struggling swimmer, he managed to grab hold of a life buoy before hurling it out to the man who was battling to stay afloat.
“I swam out about 50 metres, got the buoy and threw it out to him,” he revealed.
Gasping for breath Eugene brought the man to safety.
“He said he had got cramp and was lying on his back for a good five minutes trying to breathe when we got him in,” said the second year student. “I’d say he was about 19 or 20 (years old).”
The man, who is believed to have been holidaying in the area at the time of the incident, has since made a full recovery.
More than a week on from his remarkable feat, Eugene was keen to play down his achievement when speaking with the Leader this week.
Asked if he considered himself to be a strong swimmer, Eugene replied: “No, not at all. I haven’t swam in about a year.”
Despite Eugene’s attempts to talk down the events of June 3 last, a special presentation, spearheaded by Lough Ree Sub Aqua and Lough Ree Rescue clubs, was made to the heroic youngster at the weekend. The event was attended by his proud parents, Breda and Oliver and fellow siblings Sean and Anna.
“I didn’t really want a fuss made and I didn’t think anybody knew about it. You can’t go anywhere now without someone mentioning it,” he smiled.
Frank Casey, chairman of Lough Ree Sub Aqua Club was more forthcoming however in his praise of Eugene’s quick-thinking, which he said, averted a certain tragedy.
“The part of the river where the man got into trouble does have a strong current. What Eugene did was just fantastic. It’s a great boost for the local community, it really is,” he said.