Brave brothers receive Garda Youth Awards for helping to protect community from Clonlara floods

Three brothers from Co Clare been awarded Garda Youth Awards after they gallantly defended their home and neighbours' properties from last winter's flooding, writes David Raleigh.

Luke Kinsella, aged 17, and his twin 16-year old siblings Jake and Philip, kept the flood at bay despite the tide rising two feet around their home.

They managed to protect with a cordon of 600 sandbags.

They also raced to help secure neighbours houses in Springfield, located 1.5km from the River Shannon, after the ESB were forced to release increased volumes of water after levels in the parteen basin rose to quickly.

"We stayed up night and day manning six pumps around our house. It was very hard work. We often went three days without sleep, manning pumps all day. It was cold, and raining, and I thought they're be no end to it," said Luke, who is studying civil engineering management at Limerick Institute of Technology.

At one point, Luke's younger brother Philip collapsed from the effects of the flood which caused his asthma to flare up.

Read: Flood-hit Clare family devastated as son collapses from exhaustion

At the time the brave twin was applauded by locals as he was carted off in an ambulance to hospital for treatment.

"If the flood comes again we'll be back pumping and building another cordon of sandbags around the house," Luke added.

Nine recipients in total were presented with awards by Assistant Commissioner Anne Marie McMahon, Limerick Chief Superintendent David Sheahan, Superintendent Derek Smart, and Mayor Kieran O'Hanlon, Thursday night, at a ceremony in the Woodlands House Hotel, Co Limerick.

"It was a proud day for us, and I'd like to thank the gardai for the award. We were happy to make our mother proud of us," Luke added.

The three brothers lost their father to suicide three years ago, but their mother Bridget said her boys "became the men of the house" when they rowed in to save their home from the floodwater.

Superintendent Derek Smart said: "Unfortunately the three lads lost their dad and they had to become adults very quickly, and they stayed working in the floods for eight weeks manning the pumps. One of them went to hospital and was back at the pumps the following the day.

"It was great to recognise them."

"The future is bright," he added.

Despite several homes in Springfield been repeatedly flooded over the last 20 years, the Office of Public Works, the country's lead agency for flood risk management, has "put on hold" an application for funding by Clare County Council for the appointment of consultants to investigate possible solutions.

"Nothing has been done to protect the area from further flooding," Bridget Kinsella said.

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