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.
The Irish Coast Guard has a immense respect for the water. As the nation is gripped by this current dry spell we find ourselves implementing changes not to save people from the water, but to save water for people. #irishcoastguard @IrishWater pic.twitter.com/Cqx8Og3Ay3— Irish Coast Guard (@IrishCoastGuard) July 3, 2018
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 Independent.ie
In a bid to save the twins, four men, including their father, jumped into the sea and tried to swim to the girls.
Beautiful sunset at Duncannon. Co. Wexford pic.twitter.com/ubJvEfGncF— Declan Carty (@declancarty) April 8, 2018
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.
Strong warning from RNLI today about the use of inflatable airbeds after big rescue effort at Duncannon Beach last night saved two girls who drifted out to sea and four men who tried to rescue them. Fethard RNLI/Dunmore East Coast Guard and local people combined to save the six.— Tom MacSweeney (@TomMacSweeney) July 3, 2018
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.
If you see something that you think doesn’t look right on the water, don’t think twice call the COAST GUARD immediately at 112 or 999. Water temperatures are still cold, and we need to get to that person fast.— Irish Coast Guard (@IrishCoastGuard) June 1, 2018
Your call could save a life! pic.twitter.com/6R4FzPrx3A
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.”
Fethard RNLI lifeboat launching. Last night's rescue at Duncannon Beach saved 6 lives by a huge community effort. Dunmore Coast Guard, ambulance, medics, local people all deserve huge credit. Big warning by RNLI about use of inflatable airbeds. pic.twitter.com/kz4xYYf3kv— Tom MacSweeney (@TomMacSweeney) July 3, 2018
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.