One of the men who died swimming an Ironman event in Youghal, County Cork, was described by his previous employers as a “gentleman” who had genuine rapport with all of his peers.
Brendan Wall, 45, became engaged to his fiancée Tina earlier this year and has been living in Solihull in the West Midlands of the UK.
The funeral service for the Co Meath native will be at 1pm on Thursday, with the funeral to follow.
Mr Wall was a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, where he studied Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering. He also completed an MBA from the University of Hull.
In May this year he joined Top Tubes Ltd in Wednesbury, UK as Sales Manager, having previously been employed by the ATA Group, a Cavan-based cutting tool manufacturer.
Top Tubes chief executive April Pearson-Myatt offered her condolences to the fiancé and family of her late employee.
“It's devastating news. Brendan was a key member of the team and we will sorely miss him on both a personal and professional level. Thinking of Brendan's family at this very sad time,” she said.
In a statement, ATA Group said it was “with great sadness” to learn of the death of its much-admired former colleague.
“Brendan was Head of Sales and Marketing EMEA from April 2020 to March this year. He was a great colleague and was well liked and admired by everyone who worked with him at ATA.
“Most importantly, Brendan was a gentleman and always dealt with those he encountered in the most professional and courteous manner,” the statement said.
“Our thoughts are with his partner Tina and his family in Meath who will mourn his tragic loss at this time. Rest in peace.”
Mr. Wall also worked for Elements Material Technology in London for ten years, where he was Sales Manager and then General Manager.
He leaves behind his fiancee Tina, parents Oliver and Gertrude, brothers Martin and Joe, sister Maria, a large family and a large circle of friends.
The bodies of Mr Wall and the second man who died during the event, Ivan Chittenden, were handed over to their families on Monday.
Mr Chittenden, 64, of Toronto in Canada, and Mr Wall died in separate incidents during the 1.9km swim leg of the Ironman event at Claycastle Beach on Sunday morning.
A native of Brantford, Ontario, Mr. Chittenden studied business administration at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada. He was a senior partner at Enrst and Young before retiring two years ago, having started as a student in the London, Ontario office in May 1979.
He was an avid triathlete and previously competed in Ironman competitions. Mr. Chittenden, who was married with a family, also competed in the Boston and Dallas marathons.
Triathlon Ireland released a statement on Monday night in which managing director Darren Coombes said the race had not been sanctioned. The governing body for triathlon events in Ireland said its technical officials were present in Youghal on Sunday before the start of the event to review conditions and conduct a water safety assessment.
“Due to the adverse conditions that day, Triathlon Ireland's technical officers confirmed to the race organizers that it was not possible to sanction the race,” the statement said.
“As an investigation is ongoing, it would not be appropriate for us to make any further comments at this time, simply to state that Triathlon Ireland will provide any assistance required by the authorities.”
Triathlon Ireland sent its heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased. The organization added that the loss of the two men has had a “devastating impact” on the triathlon community in Ireland.
The Ironman Group also released a statement explaining that following safety protocol checks on Sunday morning, it was decided the swim could safely take place.
“However, due to prevailing weather conditions, it was decided to shorten the swim distance as a further precautionary measure to ensure that vital water safety assets – such as kayaks, lifeguards and medical boats – can be concentrated in a smaller area.” “We can improve the area and swimmers at the same time.” give the opportunity to swim after the first 100m with the help of a more favorable current and the incoming tide,” the statement said.
“Our thoughts continue to be with the family and friends of the two athletes who died. We provide ongoing assistance to their families and will continue to offer them our support as they get through this very difficult time.”
A Garda Siochana, who had officials on site at the triathlon, said it played no role in conducting water safety assessments for sporting events and that its responsibility was to manage crowds and traffic. “We have neither the jurisdiction nor the expertise to assess the water conditions in such an event,” said a senior source.
Participants expressed differing views on the safety of the swim portion of the event. One participant, Keith O'Sullivan, told Newstalk he regretted attending as he was intimidated by the size of the waves and feared for his safety.
“To be honest I shouldn't have gone in the water and I'm sorry I did. “I tortured my family – my children and my wife were standing by the water at the time. When I went out, I knew I shouldn't be doing this.
“As I stood on the bank, I said, ‘I know I shouldn't come in – but my friend next to me, he's getting in, he's going to get the medal, I'm not going to get the medal,'” he said.
“I should have just parked the bike and said, ‘I'm not doing that.' I think they should have just called the race back then,” said Mr. O'Sullivan.
Mr Sullivan, who describes himself as a strong swimmer, said he felt the race should have been shortened. “Just do the cycle and run. Her [Ironman’s] For me, responsibility lies in the safety and well-being of the athletes on the courses. That should be their main function.”
The Ironman group said that as with all Ironman events, the safety of the competitors is their top priority.
Other event attendees said on Sunday they felt the event was well organized and with due care given to safety.
On Monday Treasury Secretary Michael McGrath said it was vital that a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the deaths was completed.