Incident highlights need for permanent base for Killarney Water Rescue
Two kayakers were found clinging onto bushes off Lamb Island on the lakes of Killarney on Saturday afternoon following a 999 call for help
The two men, who had been kayaking on the lakes of Killarney, got caught up in bad weather, with one of the two males ending up overboard and losing his kayak, before the pair managed to grab hold of bushes in a desperate bid to get to safety.
Thankfully, local boatman Donal ‘Dux' O'Donoghue, along with paramedic Eugene Tangney, located the two kayakers and brought them to safety. The pair were hailed as heroes as they arrived on the scene ahead of Killarney Water Rescue.
Donal said he responded immediately as he knew the kayakers were in serious trouble.
"There was a 999 call and Eugene and I went out. It was a bad day out there at the time and we found them at the back of Lamb Island hanging on to bushes. They had lost one kayak,” explained Donal who is an experienced boatman.
He said the two men, who are from Killarney, were 'shook up’ following the incident but were extremely thankful to their rescuers.
"They were pretty shook up. On a scale of one to ten, ten being the worse, this was an 8.5. The weather conditions were fierce, the waves almost six feet high,” Donal added.
Saturday's close call again highlights the need for a permanent base on Killarney’s lakes for the Killarney Water Rescue service as members are currently forced to drive through traffic gridlock in the busy tourist town to reach Muckross House where they launch their specialised rescue boat.
Killarney Water Rescue Volunteer Sinead Sweetman explained the current logistics. "The boat is stored in a private house, we have to uncover it, hook it to a jeep, drive through Muckross traffic and launch in front of Muckross House,” she said.
“Time is of the essence when you have people in the water. If they were in the water any longer [on Saturday] it could have been a very different story. The conditions were horrendous,” Sinead continued.
"Saturday highlighted the time wasted, we need to be on the water right away - a half an hour would have been saved if we were on the water.”
The rescue group has called for permanent home close to Ross Castle, a call backed by Saturdays’ rescuer Donal who said the seriousness of Saturday’s incident highlighted the dire need for a base and slipway at Ross Castle for Killarney Water Rescue.
“The lack of a slipway to launch the rescue boat is slowing down response times when some-one is in difficulty. The rescue boat was five miles away at Muckross House.
"This has happened before when tourists nearly drowned in 2016 on the water. A slipway at Ross Castle would be fantastic for them. It is like having a fire engine in Tralee when you need it in Killarney.”