The girlfriend of one of the two young men who drowned after a rescue attempt went wrong arrived home from America yesterday morning to surprise him only to be informed of the tragedy when she disembarked from the plane.
Simon Delaney (21) and Matthew Gibbons (20) lost their lives after attempting to rescue five people whose boat had capsized on a small lake in Cavan on Wednesday evening.
The five people - understood to be a family of two parents, a daughter and two sons - made it safely back to shore.
But Mr Delaney, a local man, and Mr Gibbons, who had travelled down from Dublin a few hours earlier, both drowned after getting into difficulty less than 10 yards from the shore.
One man who helped rescue the initial five said that the silt close to the shore was very deep and “like quicksand”, making it almost impossible to swim in or stand in.
Mr Delaney, a talented young footballer who made the Cavan senior panel last year, was travelling past Lough Dalgan near Virginia on the way to a game when he got a phone call from a person on the shore asking for help.
Mr Gibbons, a courier from Dorset Street in Dublin, had already entered the water to help the five. He had been fishing from the shore.
It is understood Mr Delaney also knew the family, originally from Dublin but who settled in Ballyjamesduff three years ago.
The initial five from the boat were brought safely ashore, but Simon struggled to pull Matthew in and both drowned despite attempts by others to save them.
“We are so devastated at the moment,” his father Joe said yesterday.
“It is such a tragedy. Five minutes from here, as you can imagine, that's how long it took him to go down [to the lake].
“He was brave, but it would have been inexperience as well, wouldn't it? He was doing the right thing, just maybe jumped too soon. But his heart was in the right place as it always will be.
“We are very proud of him, always were and will be.”
The Irish Independent has learned the apprentice electrician's girlfriend, Siobhan Brady, travelled home from Lake Michigan — where she is on a college placement — on Wednesday night to surprise him. She was informed of the tragedy when she landed.
Mr Delaney, who is survived by his mother Mary, father Joe, and a younger brother and sister, will be buried tomorrow.
Mr Gibbonsis survived by his mother Carmel and two sisters.