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Penneys chief among drowning dead

Published 01/07/2015

The RNLI has extended the search area for Mr Ryan's son
The RNLI has extended the search area for Mr Ryan's son

A father and son and his girlfriend who drowned in a tragedy off Cork have been remembered as much-loved staff of retailer Penneys.

Barry Ryan, 51, an executive with the company part-founded by his father Arthur, died alongside his son Barry Davis Ryan and his son's girlfriend Niamh O'Connor in an accident off Baltimore yesterday evening.

Mr Ryan and Ms O'Connor were pulled from the water and pronounced dead but the son's body has not been recovered.

The RNLI said the search area has been extended wider than Eastern Hole where the three are believed to have entered the water close to the Beacon at the the harbour entrance.

It will include Gascannane Sound and the Kedge Rock.

There were concerns Mr Davis Ryan's body may have been pulled out to sea or forced into an inlet or among rocks on the shore by currents or Atlantic swells.

Penneys confirmed the three were all members of staff.

Mr Ryan was believed to hold a senior position while Ms O'Connor, from Glanmire, Cork worked in one of the outlets in Cork.

"All were much loved and respected colleagues and our thoughts are with their families at this very difficult time," a spokeswoman for Penneys said.

The tragedy is believed to have occurred after one of the party entered the water and two others attempted to rescue them.

There were unconfirmed reports the three had been walking along rock faces near the Beacon at Baltimore when the tragedy struck and also that they were fishing from the shoreline.

Ms O'Connor is believed to have been swept into the water before her boyfriend tried to rescue her and he too got into difficulty prompting his father to enter the water.

It is understood Mr Ryan's teenage daughter who was with the group raised the alarm.

The local RNLI crews from Baltimore were on scene within 10 minutes of getting the call with one person taken from the water only 30m from shore.

Search crews have been out on the water since 5.15am with conditions said to be relatively calm in the harbour and sheltered areas in the search zone with swells affecting boats in more open water.

Local boats, a Navy dive team, local divers and the Coast Guard helicopter were all involved in the search.

Mr Ryan is the son of Arthur Ryan who stepped down as chief executive of Penneys after 40 years at the head of the business in 2009.

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