| 16.7°C Dublin

'I was about to move my crab pots last week, but something stopped me' - fisherman whose floats saved Galway paddleboarders

Close

Gear: Fisherman Bertie Donohue holding the sling that Ellen Glynn and Sara Feeney would have held during their ordeal at sea

Gear: Fisherman Bertie Donohue holding the sling that Ellen Glynn and Sara Feeney would have held during their ordeal at sea

Gear: Fisherman Bertie Donohue holding the sling that Ellen Glynn and Sara Feeney would have held during their ordeal at sea

Aran Islands fisherman Bertie Donohue had planned to move the floats that helped save two young paddleboarders last week, but 'something stopped him'.

The fisherman who owns the pots at the centre of an epic rescue in Galway Bay last week says that the two paddleboarders are "very tough, very brave women".

When he heard that Sara Feeney (23) and Ellen Glynn (17) had managed to grab on to floats two miles south-west of Inis Oírr - after a night being swept across the bay - the crab fisherman knew immediately it was his gear.

Mr Donohue, who is from Cill Éinne on the island of Inis Mór, said he believed what had happened to the two Galway women "could happen to any of us".

He said their own presence of mind had been key to their survival, along with their rescue by fishermen Patrick and Morgan Oliver of Galway RNLI.

Close

Thankful: Ellen Glynn with her parents, Johnny and Deirdre. Photo: Ray Ryan

Thankful: Ellen Glynn with her parents, Johnny and Deirdre. Photo: Ray Ryan

Thankful: Ellen Glynn with her parents, Johnny and Deirdre. Photo: Ray Ryan

Mr Donohue had set the three strings of pots close to an area known as "the Finish" off the southern Aran island this season for the first time.

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

"When they got hold of the floats, it was the outer set of gear," he said. "If they had missed it, they would be out in the Atlantic."

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

Close

Cousin Sara Feeney

Cousin Sara Feeney

Cousin Sara Feeney

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

"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.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

"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 lifted the pots at the weekend, and there was a good catch of crab. He has now moved the gear to another location.

The Irish Coast Guard helicopters, RNLI Aran and Galway lifeboats, Doolin and Costello Bay Coast Guard units, Garda, the Civil Defence, local fishing and leisure craft, along with Galway Flying Club, Aer Arann and many volunteers on both sides of Galway Bay took part in the search, which was co-ordinated by Valentia Marine Rescue Sub Centre.

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

It said it was using the US software that was 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 race.

The software generated two scenarios which were used to help find the young women.


Most Watched





Privacy