Rescue workers clawed their way up steep rocks in complete darkness yesterday to reach an injured woman on one of Ireland's most remote islands.
Sue Redican was returning from a friend's house on the largely uninhabited Great Blasket Island, off the Co Kerry coast, in the early hours of yesterday morning when she stumbled and broke her ankle.
In great pain, the 49-year-old Welsh woman managed to crawl home and raised the alarm with the Valentia Coast Guard at around 3.40am.
A 10-hour rescue effort saw volunteers from the Fenit RNLI lifeboat crew arrive on the island and struggle over rough and slippery ground to the house -- around 600ft above sea level.
Ms Redican was stretchered to a waiting boat and brought to shore at Dingle, where an ambulance rushed her to hospital for treatment.
Recovering in Tralee General Hospital, the professional weaver and spinner said she was extremely grateful to the rescue team.
"They didn't have an easy task trying to get down the rocks to the slipway but they managed to carry me down," she said.
"They were just brilliant."
Ms Redican, who has spent her summer months on Great Blasket Island for the past 23 years, must now undergo surgery on her left ankle. But she vowed to return to the island, famed for its wild scenery, as soon as possible.
"I'm dying to get back," she said. "It's a beautiful place and I love the peace and quiet."
Gerard O'Donnell, lifeboat operations manager for Fenit RNLI, admitted the call-out had been challenging.
"The water was very shallow at the landing point so the crew had to launch a small inflatable boat," he said.
"The lady was in a lot of distress when we got there -- it was a nasty injury but we were able to give her painkilling gas, which helped."