Tributes paid to lifeguard who died in cliff fall during Cork camping trip

Tragedy occurred on busiest weekend of the year to date for emergency services in coastal regions
22-year-old student Conor King died after falling down a blowhole in Co Cork

22-year-old student Conor King died after falling down a blowhole in Co Cork

Ralph Riegel and Conor Feehan

Tributes have been paid to a lifeguard who died in a cliff-fall tragedy in Cork at the weekend.

The young man, named locally as Conor King (22), suffered fatal head injuries when he stumbled into a 20m blowhole – a crevice leading to a deep sea cave – outside Garretstown, Co Cork.

A friend who went to his rescue became trapped himself and had to be rescued from a perch on the cliff crevice.

It is believed the young man did not see the entrance to the blowhole as he walked along the headland in fading light late on Saturday evening.

He was to celebrate his 23rd birthday this week.

Mr King was camping with friends near the area

where the blowhole is located, west of Garretstown and near the picturesque Old Head of Kinsale.

His body was recovered shortly after midnight following an operation that was supported by various emergency services agencies.

The recovery operation was coordinated by the Valentia Coast Guard and supported by the Shannon-based Sikorsky helicopter Rescue 115.

Gardaí, local RNLI units, the Old Head of Kinsale Coast Guard unit, a specialist cave rescue team and paramedics were all involved.

The Old Head of Kinsale Coast Guard unit managed to get the trapped young rescuer to safety – and then recovered the body of the young man who had fallen.

He is understood to have died instantly in the 20m fall onto rocks below.

His body was later removed to Cork University Hospital (CUH) where a full post-mortem examination is expected to be carried out tomorrow.

The young man who was trapped while attempting the rescue Mr King was taken to CUH for precautionary assessment.

Tributes were last night paid to Mr King, who lived in Douglas but had attended secondary school first in Glanmire and latterly in Cork city at Christian Brothers College.

The young man was a keen sports fan and loved swimming and playing rugby.

Mr King recently worked at the leisure centre of the Rochestown Park Hotel in Douglas.

“Conor was a beautiful young man who was liked by all his colleagues and always seemed to have a smile on his face,” one workmate said.

“No one can believe what happened. We are all shocked and heartbroken.”

“Our deepest sympathies go to his family and friends.”

Gardaí are treating the matter as a tragic accident and a file will now be prepared for the Cork Coroner for an inquest.

The coastal tragedy occurred on what proved to be the busiest weekend of the year to date for emergency services in terms of nationwide coastal rescues.

Coast Guard and Water Safety Ireland (WSI) have appealed to people to exercise caution near seas, rivers and lakes during the current fine weather spell.

WSI warned that water temperatures are still quite low with resultant safety concerns for swimmers and those engaged in water sports.

Meanwhile, in west Cork, a family of four had to be rescued from the sea after getting into difficulty with a powerful undercurrent.

Two children had gotten into difficulties in the water at Garrylucas beach in Garretstown on

Saturday afternoon and, when their parents went to their aid, they also got into difficulty.

Courtmacsherry and Kinsale RNLI responded to the incident, along with the Irish Coastguard from the Old Head of Kinsale.

Luckily, local surfers spotted what had happened and managed to rescue the family before emergency services reached the scene.

It was a tragic weekend on the roads as well after two motorcyclists were killed in separate crashes in counties Galway and Cavan.

The latest fatalities bring to ten the number of motorcyclists killed on our roads this year.

This represents 27pc of the 35 deaths on Irish roads.

About 3pm on Saturday gardaí were called to the scene of a collision involving a motorcycle on the R202 at Corratillan, Corlough, Co Cavan.

The motorcyclist, a man in his 50s, named locally as Fred Tully from Co Donegal, was pronounced dead at the scene.

It is understood he was riding with a group of motorcyclists when the crash occurred.

In the second crash, a motorcycle and a car collided shortly after 8pm on Saturday on the R336 between Inverin and Spiddal, Co Galway.

The rider of the motorcycle, a man aged in his 30s and named locally as Galway man Conor Quinn, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Gardai in Ballyconnell on 049 952 5580, and Salthill on 091 514 720, are appealing for witnesses to either crash, or people with dashcam footage from the areas, to come forward.

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