Fran Harding drowned after getting into difficulty while swimming in Lahinch, Co Clare

Fran Harding, whose teenage son Shay Moloney drowned in a Co Clare quarry in 2018, has died after getting difficulty while swimming at a beach in Lahinch, Co Clare on January 12.

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A gardai spokesperson said that authorities in Ennistymon were alerted to the incident at Lahinch beach at about 11 am on Sunday, January 12.

"A man (early 40s) had gone swimming at Lahinch Beach when two surfers noticed he was in difficulty. He was removed from the water and taken to University Hospital Limerick.

"The man passed away later this evening. Investigations ongoing."

The Independent reports that Rescue 115, the Shannon-based search and rescue helicopter, carried out a search of the area and about 15 minutes later spotted a person in the water.

Harding was taken from the sea by the helicopter and winched onto the beach where efforts were made to resuscitate him. He was flown to University Hospital Limerick where he later died.

It is understood that Harding’s wife Sarah Jane, who is pregnant with the couple’s first child, witnessed the incident unfold.

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Harding's death is the second tragedy to befall the family. On May 31, 2018, Harding's 15-year-old son Shay Moloney drowned on while trying to rescue his friend Jack Kenneally, also 15, who had gotten into difficulty while swimming at a disused quarry in Co Clare. The teens were amongst a group of friends celebrating the end of the school year.

Tributes to Harding, a native of Co Tipperary who was living in Co Clare, are now being paid.

Mary Howard, a local Fine Gael councilor and family friend, told The Independent that the Ennis community is in a state of "utter disbelief and total sadness.

"No one can put into words what this family has gone through.

"Fran experienced an indescribable loss when Shay died and mourned for him every day," she said.

"But when he found out that he was going to be a father again he was so thrilled and excited. No one can believe that this has happened.

"Life can be so cruel to the nicest and most compassionate people," said Howard, who added that her thoughts and prayers are with the family.

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Local Fine Gael councilor Martin Conway remembers Harding as a "gentleman" in a public Facebook post:

Profound sadness descended across the county yesterday afternoon as we learned of the tragic drowning of Fran Harding at...

Publiée par Martin Conway sur Lundi 13 janvier 2020

Coolmeen GAA in Co Clare paid tribute to their "friend and neighbor:"

It is with great sadness that everyone in Coolmeen GAA acknowledge the tragic passing of our friend and neighbour, Fran...

Publiée par Coolmeen GAA sur Lundi 13 janvier 2020

Éire Óg Inis GAA in Co Clare said in a tweet:

It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of Mr Fran Harding. The Tipperary native hurled for two years with our Junior B team after moving to Clare.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

— Éire Óg Inis GAA (@EireOgInisGAA) January 13, 2020

Fran Harding and his teenage son Shay Moloney both drowned in Co Clare, less than 2 years apart.Sarah Jane Harding, Facebook