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Shooting Stars & Taylor Swift Lyrics: Ellen Glynn on Sustaining Spirits During an Overnight Ordeal in Galway Bay

15th August 2020
Ellen Glynn was rescued after 15 hours at sea Ellen Glynn was rescued after 15 hours at sea Photo: Photo: RTE

Taylor Swift songs and shooting stars sustained cousins Ellen Glynn (17) and Sara Feeney (23) during their 15-hour overnight ordeal on paddleboards in Galway Bay.

“I think I know every line of Taylor Swift – we sang them all,” Ellen told The Irish Examiner, speaking from her ward in University Hospital Galway yesterday.

“What I would really like to do is to thank the hundreds of people who came out on boats, planes, in helicopters, on foot, and said prayers and lit candles and raised the alarm on social media,” she said.

Describing how she and her cousin kept their cool during the long hours of darkness, she recalled how she sang every Taylor Swift song she knew.

They saw a meteor shower of shooting stars, they kept memorising the lights of Furbo and Spiddal on the exposed northerly shore for as long as they could see them, and “we would each talk about what we’d do when we get home”.

Ellen said that both a helicopter and a vessel were close enough to light up the sea around them, at one point.

There was lightning and heavy rain, and waves became bigger and they were “shivering uncontrollably”, she said.

When sun rose, visibility was poor – but as the fog lifted, they realised just how far they had been swept, with the Cliffs of Mother just south of them, the Aran island of Inis Oirr to the north, and the Atlantic to the west.

“I had thought we were being carried into Galway, but we were being swept in the opposite direction,” she said.

When Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan located them on their seven-metre Johnny O at around midday on Thursday, some two to three nautical miles south-west of Inis Oírr, Ellen says they told the two men they thought “no one was looking for them”.

“And they said ‘do you know how many people are out looking for you’”, she laughed.

More in The Irish Examiner here

Published in Galway Harbour
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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Galway Port & Harbour

Galway Bay is a large bay on the west coast of Ireland, between County Galway in the province of Connacht to the north and the Burren in County Clare in the province of Munster to the south. Galway city and port is located on the northeast side of the bay. The bay is about 50 kilometres (31 miles) long and from 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) to 30 kilometres (19 miles) in breadth.

The Aran Islands are to the west across the entrance and there are numerous small islands within the bay.

Galway Port FAQs

Galway was founded in the 13th century by the de Burgo family, and became an important seaport with sailing ships bearing wine imports and exports of fish, hides and wool.

Not as old as previously thought. Galway bay was once a series of lagoons, known as Loch Lurgan, plied by people in log canoes. Ancient tree stumps exposed by storms in 2010 have been dated back about 7,500 years.

It is about 660,000 tonnes as it is a tidal port.

Capt Brian Sheridan, who succeeded his late father, Capt Frank Sheridan

The dock gates open approximately two hours before high water and close at high water subject to ship movements on each tide.

The typical ship sizes are in the region of 4,000 to 6,000 tonnes

Turbines for about 14 wind projects have been imported in recent years, but the tonnage of these cargoes is light. A European industry report calculates that each turbine generates €10 million in locally generated revenue during construction and logistics/transport.

Yes, Iceland has selected Galway as European landing location for international telecommunications cables. Farice, a company wholly owned by the Icelandic Government, currently owns and operates two submarine cables linking Iceland to Northern Europe.

It is "very much a live project", Harbourmaster Capt Sheridan says, and the Port of Galway board is "awaiting the outcome of a Bord Pleanála determination", he says.

90% of the scrap steel is exported to Spain with the balance being shipped to Portugal. Since the pandemic, scrap steel is shipped to the Liverpool where it is either transhipped to larger ships bound for China.

It might look like silage, but in fact, its bales domestic and municipal waste, exported to Denmark where the waste is incinerated, and the heat is used in district heating of homes and schools. It is called RDF or Refuse Derived Fuel and has been exported out of Galway since 2013.

The new ferry is arriving at Galway Bay onboard the cargo ship SVENJA. The vessel is currently on passage to Belem, Brazil before making her way across the Atlantic to Galway.

Two Volvo round world races have selected Galway for the prestigious yacht race route. Some 10,000 people welcomed the boats in during its first stopover in 2009, when a festival was marked by stunning weather. It was also selected for the race finish in 2012. The Volvo has changed its name and is now known as the "Ocean Race". Capt Sheridan says that once port expansion and the re-urbanisation of the docklands is complete, the port will welcome the "ocean race, Clipper race, Tall Ships race, Small Ships Regatta and maybe the America's Cup right into the city centre...".

The pandemic was the reason why Seafest did not go ahead in Cork in 2020. Galway will welcome Seafest back after it calls to Waterford and Limerick, thus having been to all the Port cities.

© Afloat 2020

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