Two women who were rescued from the waters of Galway Bay after a gruelling overnight experience had drifted almost 20 miles from where they went missing before they were discovered.
Local fisherman Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan found the women, aged 17 and 23, clinging to a lobster pot about two miles south west of Inis Oírr this morning.
Despite being in the water for 15 hours the two women, who are reportedly cousins from the Knocknacarra area, did not require medical attention according to an RNLI spokesperson, and walked up the pier to waiting Coast Guard personnel for a medical assessment.
It’s understood the young women have now been transferred to University Hospital Galway for further medical assessment.
They were first reported missing by a relative shortly after 10pm last night when they failed to return to Fubo beach from where they had gone paddle boarding around 9pm, after a sudden north wind blew them out to sea.
The rescue brought to an end a massive overnight search involving lifeboats from the Coast Guard Costello station, as well as the RNLI Aran Islands and Galway Lifeboat stations.
Irish Coast Guard Rescue helicopter 115 from Shannon also took part in the overnight searches, and was joined by two further Coast Guard Rescue helicopters from Sligo and Waterford today.
As the search and rescue operation continued this morning, Coast Guard lifeboats from Oranmore/Maree, Cashla Bay and Doolin also joined while the Civil Defence carried out a search along the north shore co-ordinated by the Gardai.
Local private vessels also joined in the search, with the Johnny O fishing boat ultimately rescuing the missing women, and Galway Flying Club and Aer Arann also joined the search in the air.
Barry Heskin, Galway RNLI Deputy Launching Authority said the two women kept their heads and did the right thing.
He said there were scene of jubilation at the Galway and Aran Islands stations when Patrick, who is an RNLI volunteer himself, called them with the news.
“We are absolutely delighted that it has all worked out well,” Barry said.
image credit: RNLI / Nuala McAloon