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Thursday 23 November 2017

Golfers raise alert as rising tide traps children

Patricia McDonagh

SIX children had a lucky escape on Portmarnock beach yesterday after a rising tide that came up to their shoulders cut them off from the mainland.

Sharp-eyed golfers raised the alarm after spotting the children, aged between 10 and 12, huddling on a sand dune after they walked too far out on the strand and were cut off by the rising tide.

The youngsters were rescued by Howth Coastguard and all were said to be safe and well yesterday evening.

The children had been attempting to walk through a sand spit, which stretches from Portmarnock to Sutton.

This strip of beach can seem deceptively easy to cross when the tide is out, but a channel of water cuts the stretch in two and the area can become dangerous when the tide comes in.

The group, made up of four boys and two girls, was 300 metres from Sutton when the tide began to flow inland.

As the water reached their shoulders, they attempted to walk back towards Portmarnock, but only managed to reach a raised sand dune.

Howth Coastguard unit was notified of the incident by members of Sutton Beach Golf Club, who became fearful for the lives of the youngsters.

Concerned golfers, who were relaxing in the members' bar, immediately rang the coastguard when they saw the children attempt to make the dangerous journey.

"When we saw them go out we knew there would be trouble as it has happened before, so we called the coastguard," said bar manager Martin Staunton.

"That stretch of land can be quite dangerous. Last year a foreign family got stuck out there and a man had to take off his shoes to run out and get them.

"You would have to be a good swimmer to get to Sutton if you got caught while walking that way."

The Howth Inshore Lifeboat and the Howth Coastguard unit rescued the children, who were, by then, waist deep in water despite staying on the dune.

They brought them to Sutton beach around 5pm, where the children spoke to gardai who had been patrolling the area.

No one in the group was injured or hospitalised.

Speaking of the incident last night Colin Murray, of Howth Costguard Unit, said the children were not local and didn't know the area.


"That strip of land can be quite deceptive as it looks like you could possibly walk out to Sutton," he said.

"But it is a very dangerous spot. County Council lifeguards don't start until tomorrow so they will now warn people.

"The groups didn't know what they were doing. It could have been more serious."

Meanwhile, lifeboats came to the rescue of two fishermen yesterday after their boat began sinking off the southern coast.

The 32-foot fishing vessel 'Christian Island' began taking in water three miles south of Ballybunion, Co Kerry, at around 3.45pm. Local coastguard crews rushed on the scene, and towed the vessel back to Fenit harbour, where the men were safely returned to land.

The boat got into difficulty when the fishermen were unable to plug a hole that was letting water into the vessel.

Irish Independent

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