A 17-year-old Traveller boy, who rescued a mother and daughter from drowning in the River Barrow last month, has been hailed "one of life's true heroes" by President Michael D Higgins.

In a message addressed to Miley Doran, the President commended the teenager for his valiant action.

"I was, along with citizens across the country, enormously impressed to hear of the courage and generous instinct which saw you rescue Stacey Foley and her daughter Sophie from the River Barrow," President Higgins said.

"That you did so with no thought for your own safety marks you out as one of life's true heroes, and a citizen of whom we can be very proud indeed.

"You are also an inspiring role model for a generation of young Irish citizens," he added.

Miley was swimming when he saw Sophie Foley-Smith slip in.

The child’s mother, Stacey, then went in to save her, but ended up in difficulty and started screaming for help.

Miley jumped in without hesitation to pull out both of them.

"The woman was in fear and I was in fear myself, but I managed to save them and thank God it went well. I’m proud of myself," Miley said.

"It was very deep. When she (Stacey) fell she must have went out farther.

"She tried to pull me down but I managed to bring her towards the wall and had to lift the girl up as well."

President Higgins said he hopes to invite Miley to Áras an Uachtaráin when it is safe to do so.