Wicklow People, 11 August 1923


A sorrowful and distressing fatality occurred at Arklow on Thursday involving the death under very tragic circumstances of a young man named Arthur Joseph Ahern, who was aged about 20, and who was the third son of Mr. P.J. Ahern, the widely known and respected teacher of Coolgreany National Schools. Mr. Ahern proceeded shortly after noon with his brother and a young lad named Dermot Hall to bathe at the North Beach, at a spot situated a couple of hundred yards from the Chemical Works. It appears he was not an efficient swimmer, and as far as can be ascertained, he got into difficulties in the strong undercurrents which it is stated, abound at the spot. His brother, who is a non-swimmer, threw towards him a pair of swimming wings which he himself had been using but he failed to grasp them, and sank, and then young Hall swam towards the drowning man and made an earnest, though unsuccessful, attempt at rescue.

Unfortunately the three young men with a young lad named Laurence Byrne, who also very pluckily did all in his power to assist, were the only persons bathing in the place at this particular time, and when the alarm was given, and other persons were attracted to the scene, Mr. Ahern had disappeared from view, and all efforts of others persons who entered the water to locate him proved unavailing. With great promptitude a boat and net were procured and in a short time afterwards with the aid of the net, the body was discovered and removed to the shore, where pending the arrival of the doctor, artificial respiration methods were applied by Mr. Thomas Kelly, who holds the Royal Humane Society testimonial and who assisted by Mr. James Larkin, who had also participated in the search. Meanwhile Dr. Byrne arrived as did also Father Murnane, C.C., and Father Breen, P.P., and everything humanly possible was tried to restore animation but unhappily without success.

The very sad occurrence naturally created a painful sensation in the town, as by all who knew him the deceased, who was of bright cheerful and friendly disposition was held in high esteem. A more tragic feature was imparted to the melancholy occurrence by the fact that the last Mr. Ahern, who occupied a position in the London county West and Pans Bank at Newbury had only arrived in Arklow on Saturday last with the object of spending his holidays with his parents there. With them very sincere and widespread sympathy is felt in the mournful affliction which has befallen them.

The Civic Guard communicated the facts of the occurrence to Mr. James Murray, the coroner for East Wicklow who having made personally inquiries and satisfied himself that the affair was purely accidental, decided that an inquest was not necessary. It is significant that this is the third bathing fatality which has occurred at this part of the beach in recent years and as indicating that it is not without its dangerous elements. A resident of Ferrybank, who has several years close acquaintance with the place, stated that the storm of February last swept away the sand round the pilings which were driven there several years ago leaving holes that would mean disaster for non swimmers inclined to over daring.

Submitted by dja

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