Primark founder's son drowns trying to save his son and girlfriend from freak wave

Barry Ryan Snr and Barry Jnr died in Co Cork tragedy

Updated: 
Primark founder's son drowns trying to save his son and girlfriend from freak wave

The son of the founder of Primark and Penneys has died after an heroic attempt to save his own son and his girlfriend from a freak wave in Baltimore, Co Cork.

Barry Davis Ryan, pictured above, also known as Barry Jnr, 21, dived into the water in an attempt to save his girlfriend, Niamh O'Connor, 20, on Tuesday evening.

When he got into trouble, his dad, Barry Ryan, 51, shouted at his daughter Charlotte, 14, to run and raise the alarm, before he jumped in himself.

Charlotte asked two tourists for help, and the Baltimore RNLI were on the scene within 10 minutes, but sadly found Niamh and Barry Snr's bodies floating in the water.

Emergency CPR was carried out by a local doctor, but to no avail.

The search for Barry Jnr's body continues.

A statement from Penneys read: "We can confirm that two members of Penneys staff lost their lives in an accident off the coast of west Cork on Tuesday 30 June and that a third person is still missing, also a member of Penneys staff.

"All were much loved and respected colleagues and our thoughts are with their families at this very difficult time."

Baltimore RNLI coxswain Kieran Cotter, who has volunteered on the sea for more than 40 years, told the Irish Mirror: "Three people losing their lives in a small community like this is extremely devastating. It's just so, so sad."

Niamh was from the Glanmire area on the outskirt of Cork city, and was studying at the University College Cork.

The Ryan family are originally from Dublin but have been living in west Cork for some time.

Barry Snr and Barry Jnr are the son and grandson of Penney's founder Arthur Ryan, 82.

Niamh had travelled to the area for a brief holiday with her boyfriend.

Speaking to the Herald, Mr Cotter said: "The sea is always dangerous. Even when the weather is flat calm, you can get large waves or swells.

"This is a desperately sad case. I know Barry from coming into my shop and from meeting him in the pub over a pint. He was a lovely fella and they are a very respected family here."

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