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Twin four-year-old girls were just two of the six people rescued on Monday, after a lilo the girls were on drifted out to sea.


Their father and three other men sprung into action when they realised the wind had pulled the girls on the mattress, about 400m from the shoreline.


The incident occurred at 8.20 pm at Duncannon, Co Wexford after the local lifeguard finished his shift and went off duty at 7 pm.


A father-of-three, John Byrne and his wife, Sabrina, was with their children on the beach when they noticed the pair were moving further and further from the shore. 



Sabrina rang the Irish Coast Guard and another local woman informed the local Fethard RNLI.


According to Mr Byrne, the girls were headed for the main shipping channel of the harbour, which is terrifyingly about 30 to 40 foot deep.


“The wind caught them and, before they knew it, they were out about 400 metres from shore,” Mr Byrne told the 


In a bid to save the twins, four men, including their father, jumped into the sea and tried to swim to the girls.



The father managed to get to the lilo and headed back to shore with one of the four-year-olds. 


The remaining tot was with a local windsurfer who had also reached the mattress, whilst another man swam to help.


The three were picked up and brought to shore by local RNLI volunteer, Hugh Burke in his rescue boat.


In the attempt to swim back to safety, the father and daughter took in water and developed hypothermia, when another local swimmer came to their aid.



The swimmer successfully got to the shore with the four-year-old but got into difficulty when he went back in to save the father of the girls. 


Meanwhile, Mr Byrne who is a strong swimmer managed to rescue both the swimmer and the father.


During that time, a kayaker came to the aid of another swimmer who got into trouble whilst trying to save the girls. 



Mr Byrne explained how the ordeal which was just ten minutes, goes to show the strength and unpredictability of the sea. 


“These are big, fit guys and they just got caught,” he said.


“But every person who went out was at risk. This is the problem with the sea. They were out of their depth.”



Before the causalities were taken to hospital for treatment, the Dunmore East Coast Guard and RNLI assisted them on the beach. 


The volunteer with the RNLI, Mr Burke spoke about the heroic actions of Mr Byrne. 


"If it wasn’t for the efforts of Mr Byrne and the other locals, the outcome would have been very different, “John definitely saved two lives,” he said.




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