It’s a wet almost wintery day today in the West today a far cry from the recent spate of good weather. Driving to work today I was paying close attention to the men who were lucky enough to get hay or indeed haylage it does one’s heart good but today is also tinged with sadness.
The news came in yesterday evening that a local boy had died while swimming with friends on the Shannon river. Damola Adetosoye, 17 was a native of Newtownforbes, Longford, a talented sportstar playing with his local GAA club of Clonguish. He was the face of the new multi cultural Ireland one which had embraced Ireland’s sports and culture.
His drowning was a tragic accident where 30 young people had come to enjoy the water on Tuesday’s hot day. The marina at Tarmonbarry where the incident occurred is a popular spot with locals old and young alike when the weather is good.
There’s no doubt that Dabola’s death was a tragic accident and a great loss for the Longford community but it highlights the dangers we as rural people face every summer. When the good weather comes each year we can find ourselves going sun crazy, engaging in all sorts of activities to make the most of the few days. One can’t blame anyone for it, we have to appreciate the good days but it can come however at the expense of lives.
As a boy I too swam in the local rivers, building rafts with my family and neighbours and sailing them on the camlin river in Longford. It was great fun and we had a great time but we were lucky the river was never that high in summer and if all else failed we had simply to stand up in the water.
Dabola and his friends were swimming in the Shannon without supervising adults and though he was 17 others presents were as young as 14 and 15. Old enough to do things on their own but young enough to also make mistakes and silly judgements.
Deaths by drowning accounted for 123 lives last year. It’s a sad number with each detailing their own story. We remain as a people bad swimmers and with many despite us being an island nation unable to swim properly we need to be water smart. It boils down to roughly ten people drowning in Irish waters every month that’s 10 too many.
If you’re going to the lake or seaside this summer make sure your children have proper supervision, for younger children including toddlers ensure they have proper equipment and if you are in a new area and fancy a swim yourself find out if it’s safe before you do so. This isn’t the PC brigade here nor the Health and Safety police talking it’s just about taking that extra moment to ensure you are safe.
The most dangerous age group for drownings are in the 20-29 age group (of which many of our readers fall under) and the 50-59 demographic.
Dabola is this summer’s tragedy but no doubt there may be more. It’s farm safety week next week a time when our minds turn to taking care of ourselves on our machinery and with our stock. Perhaps Dabola’s death will serve to remind us all of the dangers of the Irish summer and to think before we rush in.
Its summer and its meant to be enjoyed but not at the expense of your family or your own life.
For more information on water safety visit http://www.iws.ie/