The brother of a young boy who tragically drowned on Lough Mask fought desperately to keep a grasp on the inflatable dinghy that swept him away.
The body of Ben Duffy (5), the youngest of five children of Alan and Tracey Duffy from Tourmakeady, Co Mayo, was recovered from the lake after a wide-scale search yesterday morning.
Ben had been playing with his brothers Matthew, Daniel and Dolan and sister Dorothy in a secluded and shallow area of the lake close to Treen in Tourmakeady.
Shortly after 6pm a sudden gust of wind caught the vessel, described by an emergency service source as an “inflatable canoe”, causing it to drift rapidly into open water.
Ben’s eldest brother Matthew (11) fought desperately to reach to him but the current and the wind propelled him further away by the second.
It’s understood that within minutes of reaching open water Ben stood up in the device, which caused it to capsize.
Local parish priest Fr John Kenny said the community is devastated by the tragedy.
“They are a beautiful family and he was a beautiful boy with the biggest, brightest eyes you have ever seen. Everyone constantly commented on his eyes. He was just gorgeous,” he said.
Fr Kenny wept as he recalled the last time he saw Ben. “His mother and I took part in a charity dance a few months ago and he said: ‘Mammy, why are you dancing with him?’ It was like he thought he should be the only one dancing with his mammy.
“The children were in a spot regarded as safe. It is secluded and shallow.
“The wind picked up and he drifted and it all happened within a matter of minutes. We have to pray for them all and pray for his beautiful soul.”
A local person described the scene of panic in the area as the emergency unfolded.
“It was about 6pm. We saw the helicopter coming and we realised there was a panic happening in front of our eyes.”