Irish hero who saved baby's life in pier-side rescue awarded bravery medal


A hero rescuer who saved a baby from a pier-side drowning tragedy that claimed five other lives has been awarded a gold medal for bravery at sea.

Without a thought for his safety, Davitt Walsh swam out into Buncrana harbour in north Co Donegal in March to reach six family members trapped in a car that slid from a slipway into Lough Swilly.

The former League of Ireland footballer managed to save four-month-old baby girl Rionaghac-Ann.

The car sank quickly, claiming the lives of the five others, including the baby's father Sean McGrotty, 46, his two sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels.

Louise James with Davitt Walsh.
Louise James, who lost five members of her family, with Davitt Walsh (Declan Roughan)

At a ceremony in Dublin's Farmleigh House, Walsh, 30, from Kerrykeel in Co Donegal, was conferred with the Michael Heffernan Gold Medal for Marine Gallantry.

Presented by Irish Transport Minister Shane Ross, the honour was in recognition of his "bravery at huge peril to his own safety, to risk life in an effort to save the life of a child".

Also awarded a gold medal was Irish Coast Guard winchman Gary Robertson, who saved a man whose boat capsized off the Co Donegal coast in April this year.