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Displaying items by tag: Galway Bay

Experienced open water swimmer Paddy McNamara has appealed to people to be mindful of sea safety after he rescued a young man from Galway Bay yesterday.

McNamara pulled the man in his early twenties from the water after he got into difficulties seconds after jumping off the Blackrock tower in Salthill.

The man was taken to University Hospital, Galway where he received treatment for suspected cold water shock.

McNamara, a Galway native and year-round long-distance sea athlete since the age of 11, had just had coffee after his own swim on Monday morning when the incident occurred.

“I had changed and had had my coffee and croissant, and was talking to some other swimmers at the time,” he said.

Together with several others, he threw a lifebuoy to the young man, who was with three other friends.

When the young man wasn’t able to hold onto the buoy, McNamara threw off his coat and swam in his clothes to reach him.

He helped the young man to safety, where he was assisted ashore.

“Jumping in at this time of year is at risk of cold water shock...people have to realise that the sea is not the same every day,” McNamara said.

The surge in interest in sea swimming into the winter months during the pandemic has led to an increase in incidents involving rescue agencies.

Water Safety Ireland, the Irish Coast Guard and RNLI issued appeals last week to take precautions and check weather forecasts and tides, after eight rescues in the space of four days.

Last weekend, fishermen Patrick and Morgan Oliver recorded another rescue when they assisted a swimmer who required help at Palmer's Rock off Salthill.

Published in Sea Swim
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Galway Harbour father and son Patrick and Morgan Oliver have recorded another rescue, saving a swimmer who got into difficulty off Salthill on Saturday morning.

The Olivers were fishing off Salthill in Galway Bay on Saturday morning when a swimmer was spotted taking refuge on Palmer’s Rock, about 200 metres from shore.

The alarm was raised by a member of the public, and the father and son took the man on board and brought him to Galway docks.

The swimmer was standing on Palmer’s Rock, about 200 metres from shore The fishermen arrived on scene and took the swimmer to Galway Harbour for treatment for symptoms of hypothermia Photo: Kevin O'Connell

The man was taken into the Galway RNLI station where he received treatment for symptoms of hypothermia until an ambulance arrived.

The father and son were given a mayoral award several months ago for their rescue of paddleboarders Ellen Glynn and Sara Feeney off the southernmost Aran island of Inis Oírr in mid-August after 15 hours at sea.

Several weeks after that, the Olivers rescued a man from the river Corrib.

Their relatives, Martin and Tom Oliver, who were also fisherman, lost their lives after an accident in the bay early this month.

The Galway RNLI lifeboat was launched in Saturday’s incident, and two members of the lifeboat crew also made their way to Salthill promenade to assist.

Galway RNLI deputy launch authority Seán Óg Leydon said many people who have taken up sea swimming this year during the Covid lockdown may not realise the dangers of winter swimming.

“The sea is a great resource for us but we have to respect it and our limits. Luckily this swimmer made his way to a place he could rest and wait for assistance,” he said.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Galway RNLI's deputy launching authority (DLA) has appealed to people not to try to swim ashore if caught in a tidal situation while walking. 

Paul Carey, DLA at the Galway station, issued his appeal after the rescue of a man and a woman who were caught by spring tides in Galway on Sunday evening. 

The two had walked out to Seaweed Point between Blackrock and Silverstrand which is accessed at low tide.

The spring tide took them by surprise and submerged their access back, according to the station.

Galway RNLI lifeboat launched at the request of the Irish Coast Guard at 4.43pm after the alarm was raised by a member of the public.

"Unaware that the lifeboat was on its way, one of the two took the decision to swim ashore to call for help," the station says.

"He was met at the shore by a member of the lifeboat shorecrew and confirmed there was another person still stranded, which was relayed to the lifeboat.

"Upon arrival, a lifeboat crew member searched the area, located the other casualty who was sheltering from the winds, and took her onboard the lifeboat.

"Both were brought back to the lifeboat station at Galway docks where they were assessed. They did not require medical attention," the station says.

“We would never recommend anyone to attempt to swim ashore," Mr Carey said afterwards.

"If people do get caught in circumstances like this they should remain on land and not attempt to swim ashore until the rescue services arrive," he advised.

The Galway RNLI helmsman Dave Badger was with crew Brian Niland, Dave McGrath and Ross Forde on the callout.

Published in Galway Harbour
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A new fast ferry for the Aran islands was unloaded in an operation lasting several hours in Galway Bay on Friday.

The new 40m (131ft) vessel, costing several million euro, was built in Hong Kong.

It will be operated by Aran Island Ferries between Galway city and the islands.

The vessel will be formally named Saoirse na Farraige at a launching ceremony in the spring.

It will be the first time in some decades – since the era of the Dún Aengus and Naomh Éanna – since passengers transport was provided between Galway docks and the islands.

The company will continue its services from Ros-a-Mhíl in south Connemara to all three islands – a sea journey which takes about 45 minutes to the largest island of Inis Mór.

The new vessel can take up to 400 passengers, and will cater for the sort of volumes now travelling between Doolin, Co Clare, and Arainn. It will take around 90 minutes to steam between Galway and Inis Mór.

Published in Ferry

The two Galway fishermen who rescued two paddleboarders in August have been honoured at a mayoral reception.

Mayor of Galway Mike Cubbard described Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan as “Claddagh royalty” when he presented them with a framed presentation scroll and a bronze model of a traditional Irish currach.

The presentation at a tightly controlled event in Salthill’s Leisureland was in honour of their achievements in saving the lives of Galway cousins Sara Feeney and Ellen Glynn in August.

Mr Cubbard said that "the rescue highlights the fantastic community spirit which exists in Galway as hundreds of people across the city and county offered their help with the search operation".

The cousins who were also recognised for their bravery survived 15 hours at sea after they were swept some 17 nautical miles across the bay and towards the Atlantic in mid August.

The fishermen have already been awarded the Afloat.ie National Seamanship Trophy for their efforts.

The Olivers recorded another rescue when they pulled a man from the river Corrib last month.

Published in Galway Harbour

The Irish Coast Guard has said it is reviewing the rescue of two young women who survived 15 hours at sea on paddleboards after they were swept across Galway Bay.

As The Irish Independent reports today, Independent Galway West TD Catherine Connolly has called for the findings of a review to be made public, with recommendations for future rescues.

Cousins Sara Feeney (23) and Ellen Glynn (17) were clinging to crab gear floats south of the Aran islands when they were found by Galway fishermen Patrick and Morgan Oliver on August 13th.

A major air-sea search had been tasked by Valentia Marine Rescue Sub-Centre after they failed to return from a short paddle on the air-filled boards off Furbo beach, some 12km west of Galway on the evening of August 12th.

The Olivers joined the search on Thursday morning, and headed straight for the Aran islands at the mouth of the bay, guessing that this was the most likely location in a north-easterly wind.

The two women, who had lashed their boards together and were wearing buoyancy aids but no wetsuits, had been carried 17 nautical miles from their original location at this point.

The Irish Coast Guard has confirmed that a review into the incident is “ongoing”, and is “in common with all Coast Guard search and rescue interventions”.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board has said it is not conducting an inquiry.

However, Ms Connolly (Ind) has said while such a review by the Irish Coast Guard is “welcome as a first step”, it should be conducted “reasonably quickly”.

“I also believe that findings and recommendations should be made public so that lessons can be learned,” Ms Connolly said.

She paid tribute to the Oliver family, originally from the Claddagh, for their response, and to all those who had participated in the extensive search on sea, in the air and on both sides of Galway Bay.

Read The Irish Independent report here

Published in Galway Harbour
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Sara Feeney, the Galway woman who survived 15 hours at sea on paddleboards with her cousin Ellen Glynn, has paid a further tribute to those involved in rescue at sea.

In an interview with RTE Radio 1 Countrywide, she has also appealed to water users to wear a buoyancy aid, to always have a means of communication and to carry a light.

“We owe it to these people to do everything we can to keep ourselves safe,” she said, describing all those involved in rescue on water as “heroes”.

“Lifejackets are a must, there’s no question about it..and even things like a light,” she said. “It is very easy to have a waterproof pouch with you where you can have these things,” she said.

Vessels & a helicopter close by

Ms Feeney described her overnight ordeal in heavy rain, thunder and lightning with her cousin, and how there were times when it felt as if there were vessels and a helicopter close by.

She also described her own concern when they hadn’t been found after being carried by north-easterly winds across the bay from Furbo to south of the Aran island of Inis Oírr – a distance of 17 nautical miles.

Floats attached to crab gear

The floats attached to crab gear owned by fisherman Bertie Donohue off Inis Oírr had probably “saved them” from being swept out into the Atlantic, but she said she also had a sense that perhaps the search pattern had changed to a shore search.

 “It was terrifying to have those thoughts...,” she said, explaining how she feared their those searching for them had “assumed a certain outcome at this point”.

Speaking about their ability to stay calm, she said that being together was crucial.

“I don’t know if Ellen’s age I would have had or had seen so many horror stories about water...Ellen probably was and had total understanding of what was going on, but neither of us really communicated that to each other... we didn’t really say that out loud at the time,” she said.

 “If we had started talking like that, it was just another level of hopelessness we didn’t need,” she said. 

“I wouldn’t have been able to hold it together if she [Ellen] had been in a state of panic,” she said, describing their unspoken joint decision to keep calm.

A “huge thing on her mind” during the night, particularly  after each vessel and helicopter flight which didn’t see them, was that “nobody gets out of this situation...”

“Lots of people don’t get the ending that we did in that situation..so that’s definitely on your mind the whole time,” she said.

Patrick and Morgan Oliver

Patrick and Morgan Oliver of the Claddagh seafaring family, who rescued them in their seven-metre catamaran Johnny Ó, were “wonderful”, she said.

“When you are out there you are thinking that all of these people are out there looking, and you have it in your head that if they do find you ...you are going to be in some sort of trouble...the stress and everything that you cause people...but they were just so kind, the instant we were on the boat just feeling so safe,” she said.

“The fact that there was such a happy ending to this is something we can take from it,” Ms Feeney said.

 “These people who go out and take time out of their own lives without hesitating and put their own safety at risk to look for people that they don’t know...are heroes.”

“Everyone we met along the way was so kind and helpful...it was lovely,” she said.

Hear the extended RTE Radio Countrywide interview here

Published in Galway Harbour
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Galway RNLI lifeboat has rescued a kite surfer who got into difficulty in inner Galway Bay on Saturday evening.

The man, who is in his early thirties, had set off from Ballyloughane beach near Renmore at about 4.50 pm as the tide was going out. A north-westerly breeze of force three to four was blowing at the time, and the man came off his board a number of times.

He was very fatigued when he was blown onto Rabbit Island, and the alarm was raised by a member of the public at 5 pm.

The Irish Coastguard tasked the Galway RNLI inshore lifeboat, and the man was rescued at about 5.20 pm. He was wearing a wetsuit, but not a lifejacket, according to Galway RNLI.

RNLI Galway deputy launch authority, Mike Cummins, said that a key factor when taking to the water for any water sports activities is a “knowledge of the local tides and wind direction”.

The RNLI Galway volunteer crew on the callout were helmsman Declan Killilea, crew Brian Niland, Joanne Casserly and David McGrath, and shore crew Sean King and David Oliver.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Aran island fisherman Bertie Donohue says he is “amazed” at the resilience of the two young Galway women who survived a 15-hour ordeal after their paddleboards were swept across Galway bay last week.

“They are two very tough, very brave girls – and I don’t know how they managed to hold on to my fishing gear in that location,” the crab fisherman from Cill Éinne on Inis Mór says.

When he heard that Sara Feeney (23) and Ellen Glynn (17) had secured themselves to floats off the Aran island of Inis Oírr, after being carried across the bay last Wednesday night, he knew immediately this was his crab gear.

Aran fisherman Bertie Donohue and the sling that Ellen Glynn and Sara Feeney secured boards toAran fisherman Bertie Donohue and the sling that Ellen Glynn and Sara Feeney secured boards to

The fisherman, who processes brown crab on Inis Mór, said he had planned to move the gear early last week, but said: “something stopped him”.

Bertie's boat named VentureBertie's boat named Venture

“That was one of three sets of pots I laid off “The Finish”, some two-miles south-west of Inis Oírr, but it was the outer set of gear,” he said.

“If they had missed it, they would be out in the Atlantic,” he said.

The chart areaThe chart area

Mr Donohue said that “what had happened to those two girls could happen to any of us”.

He said their own ability to keep calm had been key to their survival – along with their rescue by fishermen Patrick and Morgan Oliver of Galway RNLI.

When the two exhausted women fully realised their location after fog lifted last Thursday morning, the Cliffs of Moher were just south of them and the wide Atlantic just west.

The 20 knot north-easterly had carried them diagonally across Galway Bay towards Black Head, during a night of heavy rain and lightning.

Wearing only buoyancy aids over their swim togs, they tried to paddle up to Inis Oirr with the wind still against them.

It was at that point that they spotted the floats and grabbed hold of the gear, securing the sling through the webbing on the boards.

They had already wisely lashed the two boards together when they were carried south-west of Furbo beach by the offshore wind.

“I don’t know how they survived that night as there was awful weather, and that north-easterly is cold and makes a very bad chop in the sea when you are away from shore,” Mr Donohue said.

“That is a very exposed location, and I only set the gear there to help another fisherman, who lost 200 pots last October when his boat sank in Inis Oírr,” he explained.

“And his boat sank in a north-easterly, the same wind those girls had, which just shows you how tough that weather is,”Mr Donohue said.

Mr Donohue lifted the pots at the weekend, and there was a good catch of crab.

The two women and their families, from Knocknacarra, Galway, have paid tribute to all those who participated in the search and the rescue, and have said they cannot thank the Olivers enough.

Three Irish Coast Guard helicopters, RNLI Aran and Galway lifeboats, Doolin and Costello Bay, Garda, the Civil Defence, local fishing and leisure craft, along with Galway Flying Club, Aer Arann and many volunteers had participated, and it was co-ordinated by Valentia Marine Rescue Sub-Centre.

Former Irish Coast Guard search and rescue pilot Dave Courtney, author of the memoir Nine Lives, says that questions need to be asked as to why the rescue took so long.

The Irish Coast Guard has said the search for the two women covered a 200 square mile sea area.

It said it was using SARMAP - the US software used effectively by Valentia Coast Guard in 2011 to track the probable location of the crew of the yacht Rambler which capsized in the Fastnet yacht race off West Cork.

“ The search was just moving into the south-west of the Inis Oirr sector ...with both aviation and surface assets when the fishing vessel Johnny Ó came upon them. It is highly likely they would have been detected within the following one to two hours as it was daylight,”it says.

Published in Galway Harbour
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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
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