Belfast Telegraph

Ballycastle drowning victim Deirdre McShane to be laid to rest on Friday

An early morning vigil on Ballycastle beach for Deirdre McShane
An early morning vigil on Ballycastle beach for Deirdre McShane
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

The funeral of tragic Ballycastle swimmer Deirdre McShane will take place in St Mary's and St Joseph's Church, Ballintoy, at noon on Friday.

The 58-year-old community midwife died after getting into difficulties while swimming in the sea off Ballycastle beach on Monday morning.

Announcing the funeral details, Deirdre's daughter Roisin said all donations would be in aid of the Air Ambulance NI, one of the emergency services which attended the scene on Monday morning.

"Mammy was a great admirer of Doctor John Hinds and we as a family would be very grateful for your donations," she said.

More than 100 friends and family members made the sad trip back to Ballycastle beach yesterday morning to hold a dawn vigil to remember Deirdre.

"Mammy swam every morning on 'Carey' beach," said Roisin.

"She had arranged to meet one of her many friends at 7.30am for a swim before work. The swimming group organised a prayer service led by a fellow swimmer and minister to take place at 7.30am just as Mammy had arranged."

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Deirdre McShane
Deirdre McShane

Some threw flowers into the waves as the vigil heard Reverend Dr Alex Wimberly describe Deirdre as "kind, dedicated and passionate".

"Although there are no easy answers in a tragedy like this and no one to blame, we have seen so much to give thanks for in a community that has rallied round the family and each other," he told those gathered on the beach.

He also said prayers for Aine Paterson, who had pulled Deirdre and a fellow swimmer from the sea, as well as the man who administered first aid and all of those involved in the rescue effort.

"The sea is beautiful but dangerous," he told those at the vigil.

"This day we give you thanks for Deirdre, for her strength and her joy, for her determination to be her full self and to do each day what she loved. We thank you for her encouragement of others, her skill and care at work, her affection and attention at home, her courage and her love of life, even in her death."

Wrapped up warm against the December chill, the swimming community of which mother-of-two Ms McShane was a member hugged and wept together.

Her family and friends took flowers onto the beach and threw them into the sea in her memory after the short service.

A funeral notice said the popular midwife was the much loved mother of Roisin and Odhran; beloved partner of Joe and loved by his daughter Sarah; dear sister of Seamus Og, Siobhan, Donagh and Fergal; and a very dear sister-in-law and aunt.

Following her Requiem Mass on Friday she will be buried in the adjoining cemetery.

Ms Paterson (44) was hailed as a hero on Monday for wading into the frigid sea to save the life of one swimmer, while also pulling Ms McShane's body from the water.

The survivor was taken to Causeway Hospital in Coleraine for treatment for hypothermia, where she remains in a stable condition.

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