CHRISTMAS came early for a Riverchapel woman and her Jack Russell terrier Holly, after they were dramatically rescued from freezing waters by members of Courtown RNLI after a 20 minute ordeal in Courtown Harbour on Monday night.
'I knew my dog was going to die if I didn't get into the water,' said Aoife Keogh (29) who was walking with her partner James Byrne and her two dogs on the South Pier in Courtown on Monday night, when Holly fell in to the channel.
'There was such a strong current out to sea, but we got her in a little bit,' she continued. 'It came to the point where she was exhausted.'
'I could see she was falling under the water which was when I made the decision to go in,' she added. She tied the rope of a life buoy to a pole and lowered herself down into the channel.
Meanwhile, when local man Shane Power on the North Pier saw Aoife was going to enter the water, he phoned Aine Stafford from Courtown Lifeboat.
'In the heat of the moment, she went in to save her dog. That was all she could think of,' said Shane. 'It was very lucky the Lifeboat crew responded so quickly.'
Holly jumped onto Aoife's shoulders but she found it impossible to climb back up the slippy walls of the channel.
Within minutes, Fintan O'Donoghue and Aine Stafford of Courtown Lifeboat were on the scene and jumped into the channel, wearing their protective Lifeboat kit. With the help of ropes from Shane Power and Lifeboat crew David Switzer on shore, they made it up and across to the steps.
Aoife was quickly given a hot shower in the Boathouse. 'I was in so much pain,' she said. 'I couldn't move my hands or feet and that shower was probably the best feeling I've ever had in my life.'
'I'd be dead without the Lifeboat,' she said. 'You'd have to be a dog lover to really understand why I went in, and I did take precautions.' She sent a big thank you to the members of the public on the pier, including Shane Power, and the Lifeboat crew for their response.'
Aine Stafford of the Lifeboat paid tribute to Shane for his quick thinking. ' The situation could have had a very different outcome,' she said. 'He spotted somebody in danger and phoned for help straight away.'
'We were delighted that this callout had a happy ending and that both Holly and her owner are recovering well from their ordeal,' she added. 'We would advise people against going into the water after their pets as this can lead to a tragic outcome. The RNLI will launch to rescue anyone in difficulty and that does include pets and animals in trouble so that owners do not risk their own lives. We hope Holly and her owner enjoy their Christmas.'
Courtown Lifeboat advised anyone who spots someone in difficulty in the water to phone 999 immediately.