By Jonathan Davies

The son of Primark founder Arthur Ryan has drowned after trying to save his son and his girlfriend.

20-year old Niamh O'Connor was swept into the sea off Baltimore, Co Cork, following a freak wave. The Primark heir's 21-year old son, also named Barry, jumped in to save her but soon struggled to battle the waves.

Barry Snr instructed his 14-year old daughter to run for help before jumping in himself.

Rescuers recovered the bodies of Barry Snr and Ms O'Connor, but searches for Barry Jnr continue.

Baltimore RNLI coxswain Kieran Cotter, one of the first on the scene, told the Irish Mirror: "Three people losing their lives in a small community like this is extremely devastating. It's just so, so sad.

"They were still on the surface but maybe we got there a couple of minutes too late for young Barry. One of our guys just spotted two bodies and he jumped in.

Barry Snr's father is one of Ireland's richest men, having opened Penneys in 1969 and well known High Street brand Primark in 1974.

All three worked for Penneys. In a statement, the store said: “We can confirm that two members of Penneys staff lost their lives in an accident off the coast of west Cork on Tuesday 30 June and that a third person is still missing, also a member of Penneys staff.

”All were much loved and respected colleagues and our thoughts are with their families at this very difficult time."