By Cara Sulieman
THE parents of a Scots student swept out to sea off Ireland described losing their son as a “nightmare” and are coming to terms with the fact that he is probably dead.
Craig McIntyre was sunbathing with a friend on a secluded Irish beach when he was hit by a wave and swept in to the Atlantic on Saturday.
The 20-year-old, from the Colinton area of Edinburgh, was staying in a friends holiday home hear Baltimore, County Cork when he went down to the sea to watch the sunrise.
His parents David and Morag McIntyre travelled to Ireland as coastguard and Garda searched for their son, but with rescue efforts now into the fifth day they are losing hope.
Mrs McIntyre, 49, who works for charity Barnardo’s said: “He woke up, saw the beautiful sunrise, went down with a friend to take some lovely pictures – it’s just what you or I would have done.
“They’re sitting there in the sunshine having a laugh and it’s just one of those things. It’s just a nightmare.”
And Mr McIntyre, a 49-year-old finance director, added: “One of his friends had a family holiday house quite close to Baltimore.
“They’d gone over to Belfast – it’s ironic, I was worried about them driving all that way from Belfast to Cork.
“They’d got there on Friday night and Craig and one other boy, Ben, got up early Saturday morning.
“It was a wonderful morning, beautiful sunrise, and Craig’s a keen photographer, and that was what had tempted them to go down to the shore to take some photographs.
“They climbed on to the rocks to take some photographs.
“It was so nice they stuck around sunbathing and an extremely large wave came and knocked them into the water.
“Ben managed to scramble back on to the rocks and escape, and Craig didn’t make it.”
Ben raised the alarm and the search operation was started immediately, but Mr McIntyre said that he was losing hope for his son.
He said: “The Irish coastguard and police have been magnificent.
“They responded really quickly, but it’s the Atlantic Ocean and it’s incredibly cold, and the waves are huge.
“In my head I knew before we got there that there was no hope, but obviously your heart’s hoping illogically that there’s some hope for him.”
Craig was spending a year in Heidelberg, Germany, as part of his English and German honours degree at Edinburgh University.
Mr McIntyre said that his son had always had a passion for travel and languages, and that the family had received a huge number of touching phone calls from the student’s friends around the world.
He said: “When he was 18 he was in China, he’s been to Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, he’s lived in Germany and he’s been all over Europe and the States.
“It’s so ironic, he’s been to all these exotic places and he’s always been adventurous, and this happened doing something which should have been quite safe.
“It’s tough. Everybody who’s met him knows him as such a nice, outgoing, friendly lad.
“He’s got friends all over the world and he’s such a talented lad – to lose him just seems so unfair.
“I think we’ll realise now just how many people he’s touched.
“They’re having big gatherings in Heidelberg and in Edinburgh and we’re getting phone calls from all over the place.
“He’s packed a hell of a lot into his 20 years but it’s small consolation.”
The family have spent much of their time in Ireland speaking to Heidelberg students about Craig’s last days.
Mr McIntyre said: “It was nice. They just recounted what they were doing in the last few days and it just gives us some other memories to cling on to.”
They now plan to have a memorial service for their son in Edinburgh.