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24th Jul 2019

Father thanks brave lads for saving his daughter off the coast of Portmarnock

Rebecca O'Keeffe


The incident occurred yesterday.

On Monday, a young girl was swept out to sea on an inflatable toy, off the coast of Portmarnock.

It was a very dangerous situation, but thankfully the girl was recused.

Four lads had just arrived at the beach, and heard screaming. Walter Butler (21), a member of the United States Coast Guard, had arrived on the beach along with his relatives Eoghan Butler (18), Declan Butler (18) and Alex Thomson (24)  came to the little girl’s aid.

Speaking about what happened, Walter explained that the four men raced into the water to save the girl.

However, he decided to stay on the beach “to be in my best shape to provide first aid.”

He cited his coast guard training for this choice.

He explained:

“What happened next frightened everyone at the beach. It appeared the girl fell into the water off the ‘floaty’,” he said.


“You could see the brave little girl fighting for her life, her head bobbing under and breaking the surface, she clearly could not swim. She was doing everything she could to stay alive.”

The brave lad said it took almost 20 minutes to reach the girl, who had floated far away from shore.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Walter added:

“Luckily she gave it her all and Eoghan had enough time to grab her. Not a second to spare. A moment later, Declan and Alex are there to help”.

Walter also explained that himself and t he three men are all strong swimmers, so they knew what they were doing.

“They went into the water at around 2.10pm and the girl was back on the beach at around 2.50pm. We have all been swimming competitively since we were 6 or 7 years old so to say we are good swimmers is an understatement.”

The father of the young girl, who has not been named, has also thanked the men for saving his daughter.

“Only for them my daughter wouldn’t be here today. They were so brave. They should get an award. My daughter was taken to hospital but she is safe and well at home now. I’d really like to thank those men.”