SINGER Damien Dempsey came to the rescue of two swimmers who got into trouble in a Co Wexford river on Sunday afternoon.
Retired member of the Fire Service, Mark Ronan, told South East Radio that he witnessed the men who are in their early 20s get into difficulty in the River Slaney.
He added that he recognised Dempsey immediately as he attempted to rescue the men who had been swimming following the Strawberry Festival in Enniscorthy.
“I turned around and see some fella dressed all in black, as cool as you like, taking off his shoes and climbing down the embankment. I recognised him straight away as being Damien Dempsey,” said the witness.
“He had some sort of sheet or blanket wrapped around him, I haven’t a clue where he got it, or where he came from.
“He swam out and tossed him one end of the sheet to the young guy and towed him back to safety.”
The other man managed to make his way to safety, after which Dempsey walked away, soaking wet, without “waiting for anyone to slap him on the back.”
Mr Ronan, who explained to the radio station he had recently retired from New Ross fire service after 27 years, said he watched the men for several minutes before realising the incident was “developing into a worrying situation.”
“He was splashing about and was having trouble staying afloat. From what I gather his friend jumped in to try and save him, but he started having trouble as well.”
“I knew from experience in emergency rescue situations that was going to get out of hand,” he added.
Recalling the incident, Dempsey explained that he had just arrived to the concert venue with his crew when they saw the two men in the river.
“One of them was bobbing up and down and trying to come up for air. He was obviously struggling to keep afloat and his friend couldn’t keep him up for long,” Dempsey said.
“I happened to find a sheet, waded into the river, not too deep and threw it to the lad who grabbed it so I could pull him in.”
The singer added that whilst he is an experienced swimmer he was hesitant about going straight into the river.
“I wasn’t going to go in as people often get pulled down by the person they are saving and get into trouble themselves,” he said.
“I do a lot of sea swimming and have a good few friends who are lifeguards who say the last thing you ever do is dive into the water if you can help it. You need a connection with the land.”