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Pictured: Buncrana pier tragedy baby sound asleep in the arms of her saviour Davitt Walsh

By Fionola Meredith

Published 25/03/2016

Davitt Walsh with little Rioghnach-Ann
Davitt Walsh with little Rioghnach-Ann

Imagine you didn't know the story behind this photograph. All you would see is a young man tenderly holding a baby, gazing down at her in wonder as she sleeps safe and sound in his arms.

A father and daughter, perhaps; or an uncle and niece.

The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST   24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight.  The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Pictured is eye witness Francis Crawford. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Pictured is Martin McGuinness. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 Louise James (front -left) one of five Coffins during The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 Louise James (front -left) one of five Coffins during The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 Francis Crawford ( who raised the alarm) during The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Alan Lewis- PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 24-3-2016 Today's funerals in Londonderry of the family of five who drowned at Buncrana pier tragedy at the weekend in Donegal.
Funeral of Derry family who drowned in Buncrana Co-Donegal pier accident. 24-3-16 The funeral for five members of the McGrotty/Daniels family taking place at Holy Family Church in Derry city on Thursday. Louise James lost her partner Sean McGrotty, sons Mark and Evan, sister Jodie-Lee Daniels and mother Ruth Daniels. The jeep the victims were in slipped off the pier at Buncrana in Co-Donegal on Sunday night. A four month old baby girl was rescued from the vehicle. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line 24-3-16 see story
LOUISE JAMES (BLACK COAT) CARRIES ONE OF HER YOUNG SONS - Funeral of Derry family who drowned in Buncrana Co-Donegal pier accident. 24-3-16 The funeral for five members of the McGrotty/Daniels family taking place at Holy Family Church in Derry city on Thursday. Louise James lost her partner Sean McGrotty, sons Mark and Evan, sister Jodie-Lee Daniels and mother Ruth Daniels. The jeep the victims were in slipped off the pier at Buncrana in Co-Donegal on Sunday night. A four month old baby girl was rescued from the vehicle. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line 24-3-16 see story
Funeral of Derry family who drowned in Buncrana Co-Donegal pier accident. 24-3-16 The funeral for five members of the McGrotty/Daniels family taking place at Holy Family Church in Derry city on Thursday. Louise James lost her partner Sean McGrotty, sons Mark and Evan, sister Jodie-Lee Daniels and mother Ruth Daniels. The jeep the victims were in slipped off the pier at Buncrana in Co-Donegal on Sunday night. A four month old baby girl was rescued from the vehicle. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line 24-3-16 see story
The final hearse arrives at the Holy Family chapel, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry for the funeral of the five people killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Hearses arrive at the Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry for the funeral of the five people killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Mourners arrive at the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry for the funeral of the five people killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Coffins are place into hearses at the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry after the funeral of the five people who were killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Louise James (front left) who lost her partner, two sons, sister and mother carries a coffin out of the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry after the funeral of the five people who were killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Louise James (right) who lost her partner, two sons, sister and mother carries a coffin out of the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry after the funeral of the five people who were killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Mourners outside the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry after the funeral of the five people who were killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Louise James (right) who lost her partner, two sons, sister and mother carries a coffin out of the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry after the funeral of the five people who were killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Louise James (front left) who lost her partner, two sons, sister and mother carries a coffin out of the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry after the funeral of the five people who were killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PA
Funeral of Derry family who drowned in Buncrana Co Donegal pier accident. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight.  The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
The funerals of Sean McGrotty, 46, his two young sons Mark 12, and Evan, 8, Ruth Daniels, 57, the mother of Mr McGrottys partner Louise, who was in England at the time and Ms Daniels teenage daughter Jodie-Lee,15, who died when their car slipped into the water from a slipway in Buncrana at the weekend. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 24.03.17
The funerals of Sean McGrotty, 46, his two young sons Mark 12, and Evan, 8, Ruth Daniels, 57, the mother of Mr McGrottys partner Louise, third from left and Ms Daniels teenage daughter Jodie-Lee,15, who died when their car slipped into the water from a slipway in Buncrana at the weekend. The only survivor of the tragedy was Mr. McGrottys baby Rioghnach James. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 24.03.17
The funerals of Sean McGrotty, 46, his two young sons Mark 12, and Evan James, 8, Ruth Daniels, 57, the mother of Mr McGrottys partner Louise, who was in England at the time and Ms Daniels teenage daughter Jodie-Lee,15, who died when their car slipped into the water from a slipway in Buncrana at the weekend. The only survivor of the tragedy was Mr. McGrottys baby Rioghnach James. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 24.03.17
The funerals of Sean McGrotty, 46, his two young sons Mark 12, and Evan James, 8, Ruth Daniels, 57, the mother of Mr McGrottys partner Louise, who was in England at the time and Ms Daniels teenage daughter Jodie-Lee,15, who died when their car slipped into the water from a slipway in Buncrana at the weekend. The only survivor of the tragedy was Mr. McGrottys baby Rioghnach James. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 24.03.17
The funerals of Sean McGrotty, 46, his two young sons Mark 12, and Evan James, 8, Ruth Daniels, 57, the mother of Mr McGrottys partner Louise, who was in England at the time and Ms Daniels teenage daughter Jodie-Lee,15, who died when their car slipped into the water from a slipway in Buncrana at the weekend. The only survivor of the tragedy was Mr. McGrottys baby Rioghnach James. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 24.03.17
Louise James, in black, places her son Evan in a hearse. The funerals of Sean McGrotty, 46, his two young sons Mark 12, and Evan James, 8, Ruth Daniels, 57, the mother of Mr McGrottys partner Louise, who was in England at the time and Ms Daniels teenage daughter Jodie-Lee,15, who died when their car slipped into the water from a slipway in Buncrana at the weekend. The only survivor of the tragedy was Mr. McGrottys baby Rioghnach James. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 24.03.17
Louise McGrotty and brother Josh carry remains of their sister Jodi-Lee into their Hazelbank home
Louise McGrotty with baby Rioghnach-Ann, who survived the tragedy, and son Evan (8), who lost his life
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
Jodie Lee Daniels
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
Sean McGrotty
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
Proud granny Ruth Daniels gives Mark and Evan McGrotty a hug
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
Sean McGrotty (49) with son Mark (12)
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
Ruth Daniels (59) with daughter Jodi-Lee (14)
Sean McGrotty and his two sons Evan and Mark died at the scene. His partner Louise wasn’t present at the time of the tragedy, but her baby Rioghnach-Ann, whom she is cradling here, was rescued
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
Jodi-Lee playing with nephew Evan
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
The family’s Q7 which slid into Lough Swilly
Buncrana pier tragedy: Former Ballymena United footballer Davitt Walsh heroically dived into the water and saved baby. Image: RTE News
Mark (12) and eight-year-old Evan.
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Sean McGrotty
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Ruth Daniels
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Jodie Lee Daniels.
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Jodie-Lee Daniels.
Martin McGuinness at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Jodie Lee Daniels
Garda Superintendent Colm Nevin speaks to the media. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
John McCarthy from the RNLI at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Jodie Lee Daniels
Francis Crawford Who raised the alarm, at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Francis Crawford Who raised the alarm, at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Garda at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Francis Crawford Who raised the alarm, at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Presseye
Francis Crawford Who raised the alarm, at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Presseye
Francis Crawford Who raised the alarm, at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Joe Bolan / Press Eye
Tributes left at the scene of the tragedy. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Emergency services on the pier at Buncrana after yesterday’s tragic accident
Rescue services at the pier in Buncrana where a family of five perished after their car slide into Loch Swilly
The pier in daylight
Algae on the slipway which would have made it difficult for the vehicle to get any traction
An Audi Q7 like the one in which the family got trapped

A lovely picture, you might think, the sort of snap you'd see in a thousand family albums, nothing unusual.

But this picture is different, and the story behind it is so searingly powerful it is almost beyond belief. The man holding the baby is a stranger, no relation to her at all. Yet, because of the events of last Monday in Buncrana, when he saved this helpless child from certain death by drowning, there is an extraordinary connection between the two. It is real, it is unforgettable, and it will last for both their lifetimes.

The mind reels from the horror of that day. When Davitt Walsh leapt into the waters of Lough Swilly and took little Rioghnach-Ann in his arms, lifting her from the water as the rest of her family perished, he didn't save just one life. He also gave Rioghnach-Ann's mother Louise, who has suffered almost unimaginable loss, a reason to carry on.

I don't know how you continue when your partner, your sons, your mother and your sister are wiped out in one brief moment.

How you open your eyes every morning and start the day, how you put one foot in front of the other. But if there is anything that could sustain you, I imagine that it must be your remaining child - this small living, breathing scrap of humanity - miraculously returned to you when everyone else has been taken away.

Of course, the four-month-old baby is oblivious to the enormity of the tragedy. She sleeps sweetly, blissfully, in her rescuer's arms, in the way that only babies can.

Although she was right there as those terrible events unfolded, she will have no memories of the accident. As she grows up, she will learn about what happened.

She will hear about her lost family: her father, her brothers, her grandmother and her aunt. The reverberations of that loss will echo down the years.

Davitt Walsh may not be bonded to Rioghnach-Ann through blood, but the relation between the two is almost as profound.

In the midst of death and devastation he gave her the gift of life - and he gave her mother the gift of hope.

There is nothing greater that one human being can bestow upon another.

Belfast Telegraph

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