Following a major search and rescue operation on Galway Bay overnight and this morning (13 August 2020), two women have been found safe and well off Inis Oirr after spending 15 hours out at sea.
Former Galway RNLI lifeboat crew member and current shore crew member and fisherman Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan joined the search early this morning and discovered the two women on their boards holding on to a lobster pot about two miles south-west of Inis Oirr.
Despite spending the night out on the water in extreme conditions, the women did not require medical attention. They had drifted almost 20 miles when discovered. They were taken on board the fishing vessel, the Johnny O, and after disembarking, walked up the pier where they were medically assessed by Coast Guard personnel.
The 23-year-old woman and 17-year-old teenager, who are cousins, had gone paddle boarding at about 9 o’clock last night from Furbo Beach when a sudden north wind blew them out to sea. A relative of the women raised the alarm and the Irish Coast Guard immediately launched a major search and rescue operation which continued throughout the night and today.
Galway RNLI launched its inshore lifeboat at 10 pm (last night) and stayed out throughout the night changing crew three times. They were joined immediately by the Aran Island RNLI all-weather lifeboat and the Irish Coast Guard Rescue helicopter 115 from Shannon.
Two further Coast Guard Rescue helicopters from Sligo and Waterford joined this morning, along with Coast Guard lifeboats from Oranmore/Maree, Cashla Bay and Doolin while the Civil Defence carried out a search along the north shore co-ordinated by the Gardai. Galway Flying Club and Aer Arann also joined the search.
There were scenes of jubilation and joy in both Galway and Aran Island RNLI Lifeboat stations when fisherman Patrick Oliver rang the Galway Lifeboat station with the good news.
Barry Heskin, Galway RNLI Deputy Launching Authority said the two women kept their heads and did the right thing: ‘We are absolutely delighted that it has all worked out well.’