Brigid Laffan recalls the ‘unimaginable’ trauma of her husband’s death

Political scientist Prof. Brigid Laffan has spoken of the “unimaginable” trauma her family suffered when her husband died while swimming in South Dublin earlier this year.

Professor Laffan, a well-known commentator on European affairs, said she saw her husband, businessman Michael Laffan, get into trouble while swimming at Seapoint, near the port of Dun Laoghaire, on January 5.

Recalling how she felt something was wrong, she said her husband and another swimmer had gone a little further than the others, when she saw her head suddenly lift up out of the water. Laffan glanced over to where she and Ella Diarmuid’s son stood on a catwalk, before turning to swim toward shore.

He immediately told his fellow swimmers that “Michael is in trouble” while a nearby man, who turned out to be a trained lifeguard, took off his shoes and went to help.

Professor Laffan said that there were also two doctors and a nurse nearby and Diarmuid also immediately came to his father’s aid. However, despite a quick response, which included cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Mr. Laffan did not recover and was taken by ambulance to St. Vincent’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

While autopsy results are not yet available, Ms Laffan said her husband did not drown but died from some kind of “catastrophic cardiac event”.

She said it was a comfort that he “wasn’t alone. Her son carried it out.”

Michael Laffan was involved in cooker and stove manufacturer Waterford Stanley, which he and a colleague took over in a management buyout in 2000. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Michael Laffan was involved in cooker and stove manufacturer Waterford Stanley, which he and a colleague took over in a management buyout in 2000. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

“If I could have saved him, I would have,” he told the Brendan O’Connor show on RTÉ Radio One.

She said that she and her husband had been planning for their retirement and were looking forward to their remaining years together.

“It is a real trauma to see someone die before your eyes,” he added.

Mr. Laffan was a well-known businessman remembered for his stake in range and stove manufacturer Waterford Stanley, which he and a colleague took over in a management buyout in 2000.

Professor Laffan, a former professor of politics at UCD, is now professor emeritus at the Robert Schuman Center for Advanced Study at the European University Institute, in Florence, Italy.

Leave a Comment