Five from Donegal recognised at the Water Safety Ireland’s National Awards Ceremony

FIVE rescuers from Donegal are set to receive recognition at the Water Safety Ireland’s National Annual Awards Ceremony for saving lives from drowning.

The awards ceremony is set to broadcast online this evening at 7pm.

Francis Doherty, Maureen Devenney, Paul Sweeney, Garda Mark O’Sullivan and Josh Marley from Donegal are set to be honoured at the ceremony this evening.


Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, will acknowledge recipients in appreciation for saving lives.

Minister Heather Humphreys said the rescuers are being recognised for their determination, for their strength, for looking out for others and for their extraordinary displays of courage.

“I am deeply honoured to pay tribute to these deserving award recipients,” she said.

Last May, Maureen Devenney and her sister got pulled out to sea by a strong current.  Maureen encouraged her sister to kick her legs and turn over onto her back while Maureen swam to the shore where she got help from Francis Doherty who swam out with a ringbuoy and started for shore. Meanwhile, Maureen had organised a chain of six people to wade out chest deep and bring both to safety.

In August 2021, Josh Marley became alerted to a person in distress in the water at Lifford bridge in Donegal. He immediately entered the river and managed to reach the woman and bring her to the safety of the riverbank where the emergency services took over.

In December 2021, Paul Sweeney saw a young man was in difficulty at Rathmullen pier in Donegal. He entered the water and managed to reach the young man. Garda Mark O Sullivan arrived, grabbed a ringbuoy and entered the water. Both men kept the casualty afloat until emergency services arrived. The hypothermic young man was brought to hospital where he made a full recovery.

Water Safety Ireland CEO, Joanne Walsh said it is important to be aware of the dangers of drowning.


“Drownings can happen quickly and silently but with the right knowledge, skills and attitudes everyone can avoid the hazards and take responsibility for their own safety.

“Start a water safety conversation with your family, friends and colleagues and encourage them to read Water Safety Ireland’s guidelines at so they can enjoy Ireland’s waterways safely,” she said.

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