A man was saved from almost certain death after a heroic Garda jumped into the River Corrib and brought him to shore with the help of a fellow officer and a Good Samaritan in the form of Galway GAA football star Finian Hanley.
The drama unfolded beside the Spanish Arch at 4.30pm on St Patrick’s Day while the rest of the city was partying or were glued to Ireland’s Grand Slam victory over England in the final game of the Six Nations Championship.
A spokesperson for Galway Gardaí said two officers were on patrol along the water when they noticed a man in his 40s leaning backwards and entering the water.
The male Garda immediately jumped in and caught hold of the man before he was swept out to sea. A lifebuoy was thrown to the pair. The female Garda was attempting to drag them back to dry land when she was helped by the former Galway captain. The 33-year-old was out walking with his wife Pauline and daughter Freya near Jury’s Hotel.
“We saw the two Gardaí running towards the water. It looked quite frantic so I ran to help. The water was pretty high and rough and they were stuck against the wall. It was difficult enough to hold on, so we needed to get them out quickly,” recalled Finian.
“We just kind of yanked them out. They were probably in the water for five minutes. He [the Garda] was brave, that’s for sure. They don’t have an easy job.”
Both men were treated for cold and shock at the scene by members of the fire brigade and ambulance service, which had arrived within minutes of the incident.
Finian, 33, announced his retirement from intercounty football last December after 15 years.
He represented Ireland in five International Rules series against Australia, serving as vice-captain of the Irish team in 2010.
■ For more on this story, see the print edition of the Connacht Tribune.