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Two Offaly Heroes Receive National Bravery Awards

They both risked their own welfare to save the lives of others.

Two midlands men are being honoured today with a National Bravery Award.

A total of 25 people are being awarded for acts of bravery and courage at the ceremony in Farmleigh House in Dublin today.

James Melia

James Melia is receiving a Bronze Medal for calmly helping to put out a deadly fire after his lorry was hit head-on by an oncoming car in 2018, and injuring himself in the process.

The incident occurred in treacherous road conditions on the morning of 23 November at Ardnamullen, Clonard, Co Meath.

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. 

 

Garda Jeremiah Sheehy

Fellow Offaly man Garda Jeremiah Sheehy is also being awarded a Bronze Medal for rescuing a man who had fallen unconscious after scaling a disused crane in Banagher earlier this year.

At approximately 3am on 27 April, Garda 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.   

 

'The noblest impulse within a human being'

Speaking as he presented the awards, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, who's chair of the Deeds of Bravery Council, 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."

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. 

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