As the city burned around them, Pat Poland recalls when a ‘Black and Tan’ saved a Cork Fire Chief from certain Death


Timothy Ring was born in 1882 and was appointed Auxiliary Fireman in 1901, one of a number recruited to perform special fire protection duties at the Cork International Exhibition which opened in May 1902. In 1905 he was awarded the Bronze Medal of the Royal Humane Society for the perilous rescue of a man at North Gate Bridge.

After a little boy was saved from drowning, a passer-by, ‘seized by some sudden and almost unaccountable instinct’, flung himself into the river and began to sink. Ring immediately went to his assistance, but the drowning man, now paralyzed with fear, began to pull his rescuer under. After an exhausting struggle lasting over twenty minutes, the firefighter managed to reach the slipway where willing hands assisted both rescuer and rescued to safety.

In 1910, Tim Ring was highly commended by Coroner Blake after he came to the rescue of a girl whose clothing had caught fire, getting his hands and uniform burnt in the process.

Ring enlisted in the British Army in July 1916 and served in France with the Royal Garrison Artillery, being wounded in action. After demobilization, he returned to the Fire Service, being upgraded to permanent status in January 1919 and, shortly after, promoted to member-in-charge at Grattan Street Fire Station in Cork city centre (now closed).
In the coming years he would gain a reputation in Cork – then a big town where everybody knew everybody else – for speaking out against injustice and prejudice wherever he saw it– either by Crown Forces or Irish Volunteers – and, as a result, he was held in high regard by both sides.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own