Kerry County Council is to be asked to erect warning signs at one of the county’s most popular blue flag beaches where two nuns drowned.
Sr Imelda Carew and Sr Paula Buckley died after getting into difficulty while swimming at Inch Strand on August 14 last year. An inquest into their deaths returned a verdict of acute cardiac and respiratory failure due to accidental drowning. Sixty-seven-year-old Sr Imelda Carew and 70-year-old Sr Paula Buckley had been enjoying a holiday in Kerry with their friend Sr Mary Hanrahan from Dublin. They decided to go for a swim at Inch Strand, while Sr Hanrahan looked on from the shoreline. She told Tralee Coroner’s Court, she lost sight of her friends within minutes and went to seek help from the lifeguard. Sr Hanrahan said the lifeguard assured her not to worry because the sea was calm. She saw something floating in the water and realised it was a body. She then saw a second body. When the bodies were pulled from the water by the lifeguards and a surfer, she realised it was her friends. Lifeguards Hugh Stewart and Darragh Harkin, assisted by members of the public, performed CPR on the two until the first ambulance arrived at the scene around 20 to 25 minutes later. They were airlifted to Kerry General Hospital, where they were pronounced dead after 9pm that night. The jury returned a verdict of acute cardiac and respiratory failure due to accidental drowning in keeping with the cause of death given by Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margot Bolster, who carried out the post-mortem. Jury member Mick O’Connell, who lives in the area, said the beach had been the scene of between 10 to 12 drownings. The jury requested a rider to be included requesting the county council to erect visible signage warning of strong currents. A statement from the Presentation Order said the inquest was another step on a journey of healing and acceptance. They thanked the emergency services, medical staff and members of the public who had done so much to save their wonderful sisters on a terrible night.