Seventeen-year-old Ellen Glynn has said that she is “so grateful” to the two fishermen who saved her life yesterday morning after she and her cousin drifted out to sea on Wednesday night.
Ellen and her cousin Sara Feeney were paddleboarding at Furbo Beach on Wednesday evening, when they found themselves being taken further and further away from the shore by the sea.
They then survived a gruelling 15 hours in the water, clinging on to a lobster pot, before being saved the next morning by local heroes Patrick and Morgan Oliver.
Sharing her incredible and inspiring story with Susan Keogh on Lunchtime Live on Newstalk, Ellen said that they had been out in the water two nights before at the same time, and that the weather was good.
“It was calm, it was warm, and we knew it wasn’t going to get dark or anything too soon, and we weren’t intending to go out for too long or to go out too deep,” she said.
“We just started paddling out and we were talking away and we looked back and we’d just gone really really far out into the water, and it had just gotten really windy and we hadn’t even noticed.
“We tried to go back but we just couldn’t make it.”
Answering a question about what was going through her head during the ordeal, Ellen said that at first, she was panic-stricken.
But the brave teenager and her cousin Sara “just decided not to panic” and “not to have any negative thoughts or anything”.
“We just tried to stay calm and positive,” she said.
The two cousins tied their paddleboards together, and when they came across the lobster pot buoys they attached the boards to them.
Talking about the rescue, she said that they were waiting and waiting, and it was pitch black by the time the first boat came.
“[The boat] was going around and we thought maybe the lights on the boat might pick up the hi-viz on our life jackets, but it didn’t.
“The boat was going around but it just didn’t see us and we were screaming at it, but it was just so windy that they couldn’t hear anything and then the helicopter came and we thought for sure that with the big lights on the helicopter we’d be seen but we were just a bit unlucky.”
She said that they took notes of the lights around, to remember and keep track of where they were so as to not drift too far.
“But then it just got really dark and all the lights went out and we just couldn’t see anything.
“We’d been paddling in place to try to stay where we were, but we just drifted out in the complete opposite direction.
When it started to get bright out it was foggy so we didn’t know where we were but then the fog kind of lifted and we could see on one side of us the Cliffs of Moher, and on the other side the Aran Islands.
“And obviously the ocean was right behind us and that’s the direction the wind was blowing us into – and the waves were really big pushing us out that way.”
Ellen said that the ordeal was made all the more difficult due to the cold water during the night.
“As soon as the sun went down, it started to get freezing, with the wind and everything, and there was thunder and lightning and lashing rain, and we were frozen.
My memory is a bit fogged now because i’m still in shock but I think we were just trying to stay calm, talking about things like: ‘oh when I get back I can’t wait to be wrapped up in a blanket etc etc’ – we couldn’t really do much strategizing when it was dark and we couldn’t see anything.”
Then Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan came across them after some smart thinking and saved the two women.
“We saw their boat away in the distance, and we started raising our paddles up in the air like crazy, trying to flag them down, and they turned and started coming towards us.
“We were just in disbelief that we were finally getting saved. We just couldn’t believe it.”
The two were given jackets and drinks, and they were brought to Inis Oírr.
“We got straight on the helicopter and on the helicopter they had these big huge fancy blankets for us, and they gave us chocolate bars and juice and everything.
Speaking about the two local heroes who saved their lives, she added: “We’re so so grateful to them – I don’t even know what would have happened to us if they hadn’t come and found us.”