Belfast Telegraph

Pictured: Deirdre McShane's friends and family hold emotional dawn vigil at Ballycastle water's edge

Friends, family and members of the swimming club that Deirdre McShane was part of gathered to pay respects and pray for her at the spot where she died on Ballycastle Beach, over 100 people attended the short service on the beach and layed flowers at the sea. Pic Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia
Friends, family and members of the swimming club that Deirdre McShane was part of gathered to pay respects and pray for her at the spot where she died on Ballycastle Beach, over 100 people attended the short service on the beach and layed flowers at the sea. Pic Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia
The six women kneel to remember their friend Deirdre McShane

By Eimear McGovern

Friends and family of a community midwife who drowned at Ballycastle beach on Monday have gathered at the sand dunes above the beach to remember her.

The group of more than 100 people held a short service at the beach and some laid flowers at the scene where Deirdre McShane lost her life.

They paid their respects and prayed at the local beauty spot between Rathlin Island and Fair Head where the 58-year-old got into difficulties while swimming.

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

44-year-old Aine Patterson was on Monday hailed as a hero for wading into the 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 is in a stable condition.

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The six women kneel to remember their friend Deirdre McShane

Mrs Paterson, a driving instructor, was walking a dog on the beach for a friend when the tragedy unfolded at around breakfast time.

She told the Belfast Telegraph the women were part of a group of cold water swimmers who visit Ballycastle most mornings and were a familiar sight.

Mrs Paterson said that during her unsuccessful attempt to revive Ms McShane two other women ran across the beach.

"They were hysterical," she said.

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Deirdre McShane, who lost her life

"I think they were probably the ladies who decided to stay out of the sea because the conditions were so rough."

The emergency services, including members of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, the Northern Ireland Air Ambulance and local ambulance crews, were quickly on the scene of the tragedy.

Sinn Fein councillor and election candidate in North Antrim Cara McShane confirmed she was related to Ms McShane and described her as a much-loved and likeable person who swam daily and wouldn't have taken unnecessary risks.

"From a family point of view we are shocked and devastated at this awful tragedy," she said.

"The wider community in Ballycastle is also in shock but I want to thank those who tried to help this morning and of course the emergency services for their efforts.

"I have no doubt the people of Ballycastle will rally round and offer support to help through the time ahead."

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