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30 Nov 2021

Two Offaly men honoured for their incredible actions with National Bravery Awards

Two Offaly men honoured for their incredible actions with National Bravery Awards

Two Offaly men honoured for their incredible actions with National Bravery Awards

Two Offaly men have been honoured for their incredible actions with National Bravery Awards.

The Ceann Comhairle, Seán Ó Fearghaíl TD, today presented National Bravery Awards to 25 people from Counties Cavan, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Kilkenny, Offaly, Sligo, Tipperary and Waterford, and from the United States of America.

Among the recipients were lorry driver James Melia and Garda Jeremiah Sheehy who both risked serious injury and possible death to save the lives of others. Read the details of their incredibly brave acts below.

James Melia (Offaly)

On the morning of November 23, 2018, at Ardnamullen, Clonard, Co Meath, James Melia’s lorry was hit head on by an oncoming car in treacherous road conditions.  The driver of the car was seriously injured and was trapped in the car.

James exited his lorry, acted swiftly and immediately took actions to try and stop the spread of fire by using his own fire extinguisher. This failed to control the fire as the fire was too strong. As a passer-by went to get help, James remained calm and began getting fistfuls of clay and mud from a ditch and stuffing it onto the flames to keep the fire at bay and prevent it from spreading. James selfless actions resulted in extensive injuries to his hands including damage to his fingertips. 

For his actions James Melia is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery. 

Garda Jeremiah Sheehy (Offaly)

At approximately 3am on 27 of April 2020, Garda Jeremiah Sheehy and Garda Virgina Doona met a man walking along Main Street in Banagher, Co Offaly. The man would not engage with them as he walked in the direction of the bridge at the Westend.

The gardaí turned back a few minutes later to see where the man had gone. Unable to locate him they started to search the Marina carpark beside the bridge and found the man had scaled a disused loading crane and was now dangling unconscious from a crossbeam 18-20 feet off the ground. Both gardaí went to the man’s assistance. Garda Sheehy scaled the crane and pulled the unconscious man back towards the crane. This was extremely difficult as the man’s weight was close to 18 stone and he was now dangling over the water’s edge.

Garda Doona immediately sought assistance from other Garda members and the fire and ambulance services. Garda Doona managed to get a knife and Garda Sheehy succeeded in cutting the ligature. This caused the full weight of the man to fall onto Garda Sheehy’s foot which was now trapped against the steel structure. The man was held in place for approximately 10 minutes until Garda Ken McDonald and Garda Michael Rosey arrived and were able to scale the crane and take the weight of the man. Garda Sheehy was in pain and discomfort, but the Gardaí present were unable to free Garda Sheehy’s trapped foot. Fire and ambulance services arrived 10 minutes later and were able to take the man to safety and free Garda Sheehy’s trapped foot.   

For his actions Garda Jeremiah Sheehy was awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

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The Bravery awards were set up in 1947 to recognise those who risked their lives to save others and are administered by Comhairle na Míre Gaile – the Deeds of Bravery Council – which is chaired by the Ceann Comhairle. 

The Ceann Comhairle said: “The deeds we honour here are exceptional acts of bravery. They mark the moments where people saved the lives of others through their actions, risking their own lives doing so. What these awards celebrate is the noblest impulse within a human being, to risk their life in order to save another. We honour people who leaped into stormy seas, who braved swollen rivers, climbed down cliffs, assisted at road traffic collisions and performed other remarkable deeds. Through their actions there are people alive today, who would undoubtedly have died. 

“I am of course conscious that we mark these deeds at a time when the world is still under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. This virus has brought great pain to many families throughout the country and our hearts are heavy for the loss suffered over the last 20 months. But the exemplary service given by our doctors, nurses and frontline workers across the health service, the fire and rescue services and An Garda Síochána has brought great hope and also pride, to us all. 

“Today we rightly acknowledge the brave acts of heroism that our honoured guests have performed. But it also a day for remembering and acknowledging the very many acts of bravery carried out day in and day out throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. However small or big those acts were and continue to be, collectively they contribute to keeping us all safe during an unprecedented time in our lives. 

“The collective sense of good and indeed bravery displayed nationwide from many walks of life throughout the pandemic rightly allows us to be both proud of our communities and grateful for their existence. An Irish language expression whose literal meaning is 'It is in each other’s shadow that people live' but which, more broadly, invokes a sense of community and interdependence is most apt for the times we live in – Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine.” 

The Deeds of Bravery Council includes the Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, the Lord Mayors of Dublin and Cork, the Garda Commissioner, the President of the Association of City & County Councils and the Chair of the Irish Red Cross. 

The Council may award Gold, Silver or Bronze medals as well as Certificates of Bravery.

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