TWO young children were rescued by emergency services after being swept out to sea in separate incidents today.
A six-year-old boy was pulled a mile offshore while clinging to his surfboard "for dear life".
The boy had been enjoying the sun at Renville in White Strand, north of Cleggan, Co Galway, when currents, and a wind travelling out to sea, swept him and his board a mile offshore.
After receiving 999 calls from members of the public and the boy's parents, Mallin Head Coastguard sent rescue helicopter 118, as well as two life boats from Clifden and sent out an emergency call to vessels in the area for assistance.
One of the local boats found the boy one mile from the shore.
They carried him back to the beach, at which time the rescue helicopter had arrived at the scene, landed on the beach and treated the boy.
A spokesperson for Mallin Head Coastguard said it was 'miraculous' that the boy escaped unscathed from the incident.
"He was okay. He was shocked and he was cold but they gave him treatment and he didn't need to be hospitalised," he said.
"He clung onto that surf board for dear life, which must have been terrifying for him - a young boy of six years of age.
"But also for the parents to see him washed out must have been unbelievable and he's only six years of age.
"At any time if he let go of that surf board that would have been it. The winds were picking up, there were south-easterly winds, so they were blowing from the land out to sea."
Separately, a major rescue operation was mounted in Kerry after a little girl drifted out to sea on an inflatable device.
Coast Guard units, including the Shannon-based Rescue 115 Sikorsky helicopter as well as RNLI, Gardaí and paramedics, scrambled to assist the rescue operation outside Ballybunion shortly after 3pm.
The incident unfolded when a five-year-old girl apparently took an inflatable leisure device similar to a lie-low to the water's edge after attending the beach with her family.
While playing with the device, she suddenly got caught in the ebbing tide which swept her out to sea.
A number of adults at Littor Strand in north Kerry realised the child's predicament and tried to go to her aid but she had been carried too far out from shore.
The alarm was immediately raised and the major rescue operation swung into gear under the supervision of the Valentia Coast Guard Centre.
Locals tried to keep the lie-low in sight as it drifted out to sea in a bid to guide rescue services to the child's precise location.
Rescue 115 was on the scene within minutes of launch and spotted the child.
She was winched up to the helicopter and then transferred to a waiting lifeboat launched from Kilrush.
The child, accompanied by her mother, was later transferred to University Hospital Kerry (UHK).
She was being assessed and treated for shock, exposure and suspected hypothermia.
It is understood the family are from Limerick and had spent the day at the popular Kerry coastal resort.
The dramatic rescue took place just 24 hours after two separate rescue operations involving swimmers in west Cork.
One involved four young boys who got into difficulty near Inchydoney while the second involved two young women outside Glandore.
Irish Water Safety (IWS) have urged people to exercise maximum caution at rivers, lakes and the seaside as Ireland is set for glorious weather over the June bank holiday weekend and temperatures soaring to almost 27C.
The Mallin Head Coastguard spokesperson urged that children must be closely monitored at this time, because lifeguards are not working during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He advised that inflatable leisure devices, such as lie-lows, should not be brought near the open water.
"All parents need to keep their children supervised on the beaches because there are no lifeguards at present due to Covid-19," he said.
"Lie-lows should never come near a beach. Because of the current and the way the wind blows, people lie in them and they think they're in a pool but they just get swept out..
"Lifeguards would never allow them but they're just not there at the moment."