TRIBUTES HAVE been paid to a Dublin man who sacrificed himself to save his son’s life following a tragic boating accident in Co Kildare.
Declan Reid has been hailed as a “hero” after fighting with his dying breath to save nine-year-old Aaron from drowning when their kayak capsized while out on the River Barrow in Athy two weeks ago.
The pair were out on the water together at Ardreigh Lock, close to his old family home, on February 28, when their boat suddenly overturned.
A physically fit man, Declan was able to keep Aaron above water and raise the alarm to a passerby who jumped in and rescued the boy.
However, when he returned to help Declan, he discovered he had gone under.
Despite the best efforts of Declan’s dad Paul, who also jumped in the river to find him, Declan drowned.
His body was recovered six days later following an extensive search of the river.
A loving and dedicated father, Declan was set to become a dad with his partner Fiona, who is pregnant with their first child.
His tragic death has left friends and family and sent shockwaves through the local community of Clondalkin, where he and Fiona lived.
A funeral service for the 34-year-old was held at St Peter The Apostle Church in Clondalkin this past Wednesday where, according Dublin Live, the parish priest paid a special tribute to Declan as “the definition of a hero.”
“He was a wonderful dad," the priest said.
“We look back at his life, his life marked particularly by the end as a hero who gave his life to make sure his son lived. That is a beautiful memory to have. He didn’t go home but he gave his life so that his son would.
“I think that is the definition of a hero.”
Pauline Smith, the mother of Declan's son Aaron, also paid her respects in an exclusive interview with the Irish Sunday Mirror, describing her former partner as “brilliant” dad and “hero” to their young boy.
"Declan was a brilliant dad to Aaron,” she said.
“He loved going to his daddy’s to see what adventures they’d get up to at the weekend.
“They were so cheeky together, like best friends. Aaron tried to be like his daddy, he wanted to be strong like him. They’d exercise together and he’d come home showing me his muscles.
“He taught him to treat women with respect, especially his mammy,” she added.
“He gave him the best nine years of fun, memories and love and for that we will always be very thankful and he’ll never be forgotten. Hero!”