THE miraculous rescue of two Galway cousins was recalled at Blackhead Lighthouse earlier this week at the official launch of a new fundraising appeal for the RNLI.
Accompanied by their parents and friends, Ellen Glynn (17) and Sarah Feeney (23) from Knocknacarra in Galway came to the waters and the wild of the Burren to launch a Clare, Galway and nationwide appeal in support of the RNLI Lifeboats.
As the two girls looked out from the Lighthouse at Blackhead with the wind and sea spray in their faces on Monday evening, they recalled it was a lot nicer to be looking out from the lighthouse than to be looking in while they were at sea waiting to be rescued.
They were joined at the launch by Clare Champion managing director, John Galvin, who praised the RNLI for saving many lives each year through their dedication and tenacity.
“We are delighted to join Ellen Glynn and Sarah Feeney in launching this fundraising appeal for a fantastic charity that depends for their survival on the generosity of the public,” he said.
The search and rescue mission for the two girls who spent 15 hours at sea during which they drifted almost 30km from the shore before they were eventually found by two fishermen gripped the nation.
The cousins were plucked from the water by fisherman Patrick Oliver (38) and his son (18), who sailed from the docks in Galway and correctly worked out the pair’s location after examining wind and tidal information.
The ordeal began for the two girls on the evening of Wednesday, August 12 at 8.30pm when they went on their paddle boards for a short paddle on the beach at Furbo in Galway.
In a short time they were swept out to sea by the currents and the fast flowing tide brought them out into the ocean. Rescue services were alerted and searched into the night for the two girls.
Luckily, they had held their heads and had tied their two paddle boards together and had found a lobster pot to tie onto to slow the speed of the boards.
They battled the elements of the sea all night long and kept themselves positive by thinking happy thoughts and singing songs to keep their mood up.
Their luck changed for the better when Galway Bay fishermen Patrick Oliver and his son, Morgan hit out to sea with the great knowledge inside in them about the flow of the currents.
They found the two girls alive and well but worn out just off the Island at Inisheer around mid-day on Thursday 13 August some fifteen hours and seventeen miles after their ordeal began.
When asked about the rescue later the two fishermen said: ‘We found them, but they saved themselves’.
Cousins Ellen Glynn and Sarah Feeney recently joined Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show to speak about their harrowing experience.
“It is definitely scary to see the reality of it. But it’s just crazy that we’re alive and we’re so lucky to be here’ said Ellen Glynn.
She reflected on the day that they went out together on the paddleboards, with no waves in sight.
“It was a really nice evening, it was calm, there was no wind or anything… but very quickly we just got pulled out to sea.’
“We didn’t realise how far out we’d gone… and then we realised we were in a bit of bother after trying to get back in’, added Sarah.
“It wasn’t until after it had gotten dark we realised we were in a more serious situation than we initially thought.”
When asked by Ryan what was going through their minds when they were out there, Ellen said ‘We didn’t talk out loud about what could go wrong, just to not panic each other. So we were just talking about getting back and what we were gonna do when we got home.”
“You don’t want to be having any kind of conversation that would be any way panic-inducing,’ added Sarah.
Recalling the day he and his son found the cousins, fisherman Patrick Oliver praised the girls for keeping themselves safe while out at sea.
“We found them, but they saved themselves’, he told Ryan, sitting beside his 18-year-old son Morgan.
People who wish to contribute to the appeal can log into the RNLI www.justgiving.com/fundraising/galwayrnlilifesaversfund All support would be appreciated by lifeboat crews.