The two paddleboarders were found clinging on to a lobster pot near one of the Aran Islands

By Gabrielle Chung
August 14, 2020 05:31 PM
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(from left to right) Patrick and Morgan Oliver
RTE News/Twitter

Two Irish fishermen are being hailed as heroes after rescuing a pair of paddleboarders who were lost at sea for 15 hours.

Patrick Oliver and his 18-year-old son, Morgan, discovered an adult woman and a teenage girl clinging on to a lobster pot on Thursday near one of the Aran Islands, approximately 20 miles from where they were last seen paddleboarding, according to a news release from the Galway RNLI Lifeboat Station.

The woman and the teenager — identified by local media outlets as Sara Feeney, 23, and Ellen Glynn, 17 — had been paddleboarding near Furbo Beach on Wednesday night when a sudden north wind blew them out to sea.

A relative who lost sight of them from the shore quickly alerted authorities, prompting an overnight search and rescue operation by local lifeboat services and the Irish Coast Guard. Other organizations that deployed volunteers in the search include the Galway Flying Club and Aer Arann.

Oliver, who also volunteers as a shore crew member with the Galway RNLI, and his son joined the search on Thursday morning and set out on the fishing vessel, the Johnny O.

The father told national broadcaster RTÉ that he had worked out a rough idea of where paddleboarders may have drifted by calculating the wind speed and direction, saying he would have gone 30 miles further from where he found them "because it wouldn't have been worth giving up."

"They were definitely in shock but the weather is warm so they were lucky," he said. "We got them in the boat and we brought them into the island and the chopper landed there."

He added, "They were fairly shook but they were thankful."

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Flynn and Feeney, who are cousins, were able to stay afloat by attaching their paddleboards to a marker buoy on the lobster pot, according to their grandmother Mary Fenney.

"I couldn't put it into words how good and how kind everybody was," she told RTÉ. "And God bless those fishermen. God bless everybody that helped."

Feeney's mother, Helen Fenney, also praised Oliver and his son for rescuing the women.

"We're forever indebted to him," she added.