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Body recovered from water confirmed as 20-year-old Barry Davis Ryan

Sad: Barry Davis Ryan
Sad: Barry Davis Ryan

THE BODY of Barry Davis Ryan (20) was recovered from the sea this morning - at the start of what was always planned to be the last dive of the day.

A total of 122 volunteers, 65 experienced recovery divers and 57 support officials, had undertaken an exhaustive search programme over the previous 36 hours to exploit a favourable weather window.

It is understood that divers working a grid pattern search area offshore of East Hole, Baltimore where Mr Davis Ryan, his father, Barry Ryan (51) and girlfriend, Niamh O’Connor (20) drowned 10 days ago spotted remains shortly before midday - shortly before the search was due to end as the wind and swell picked up.

Divers, who had travelled from as far away as Dublin, Sligo and Louth to support the search, had conducted operations along special lines laid in a grid pattern off East Hole at the entrance to Baltimore harbour.

It is understood that the body was found about 200 metres from where the young Pennys worker was last seen alive.

Mr Davis Ryan's remains were taken to Baltimore RNLI station in a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) with four other boats acting as an impromptu honour guard, and silence descending on the picturesque town

The remains were blessed by a local priest before being removed for formal identification and a post mortem examination.

Irish Coastguard, RNLI and recovery divers then formed a special guard of honour as the hearse left the village - bringing to a close 10 days of agony for the young man's family.

Members of the Ryan family, including his mother, Ann Davis, and uncle met with dive officials this afternoon to offer their personal thanks for everything that was done to recover the young man’s body over the past 11 days

Mr Davis Ryan drowned alongside his father, Barry Ryan, after both had heroically tried to save the young man’s girlfriend, Niamh O’Connor.

Ms O’Connor was swept into the sea shortly after 6pm on June 30 at East Hole, near Baltimore’s iconic Beacon tourist attraction.

Mr Ryan’s daughter, Charlotte (14), raised the alarm but all three drowned.

The bodies of Ms O’Connor and Mr Ryan Snr were recovered within minutes by Baltimore RNLI.

A massive search operation had been launched for Mr Davis Ryan.

Dive operations have had to be severely curtailed for five days because of inclement weather conditions and dangerous sea swells.

Major dives were only resumed when weather improved from last Wednesday.

Special prayers were offered by the family at Mr Ryan’s Requiem Mass in Rath, Baltimore last weekend for the recovery of Mr Davis Ryan’s body.

The recovery operation has involved look-outs being maintained at all headlands around Baltimore.

Mr Ryan Snr and Mr Davis Ryan are the son and grandson of Penney’s founder, Arthur Ryan (80).

In a statment today, the Irish Coastguard said it "would like to thank all the volunteers - divers, coast guards, lifeboat and rescue boat men and women, civil defence and members of the public - who turned up in great numbers and brought an element of closure to this tragedy. Go raibh maith agat."

Irish Underwater Council diver Paddy Agnew said today he hopes the discovery provides closure for the grieving family.

“It was very hard diving, very hard terrain, but eventually it paid off. The result came in, the wind was starting to get up and the swell was coming in so it made conditions even worst,” Paddy Agnew told RTE Radio One’s Liveline.

“It was a great success for all the people involved, all the divers who came from around the country were fantastic.”

Paddy, who travelled from Dundalk for the search, said the dive was planned and coordinated with precision.

“The call went out originally from some of the family, and then one of the local men here had a lot of input in organising the guys,” he said.

“He put the call out, the Underwater Council volunteer divers all responded, that’s what we do when someone asks for help and we all rally around and go to the site.

“The spot was gridded off and the divers were allocated a section to cover and report back and that’s the way we coordinate it.

“Everyone checks in, the divers check in regularly, first and foremost we have to look after our own.

“It worked and it worked well.

“The terrain there is very difficult,” he continued.

“There are large boulders and a four-metre drop, a rocky cliff face and all of a sudden a drop down 26 metres. It was quite deep and a tough terrain to cover.

“It was very dark as well. At one stage some of our divers that reported back were in 30 metres of water and they couldn’t see anything.

“We all have day jobs, so a thanks to the employers of the divers who let people to take part in the search. Only for that we wouldn’t be in a position to do it.

“We have people from all walks of life on the search.

“Our condolences go out to the family and we hope it is some relief to them today.”

Ralph Riegel