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Dublin: 7°C Sunday 11 April 2021

'Sara said to Ellen - this boat is coming for us': Father describes joy and relief after Galway bay rescue

Fisherman Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan found Ellen Glynn and Sara Feeney yesterday after a 15-hour ordeal at sea.

One of the rescued women on her way to be treated in hospital.
One of the rescued women on her way to be treated in hospital.
Image: Declan Colohan

THE FATHER AND uncle of the two young women who were miraculously rescued following a major search in Galway bay yesterday has said there’s a sense of “mighty relief” that they were found safe.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Johnny Glynn said he’ll be forever grateful to the men who rescued his daughter Ellen (17) and her cousin Sara Feeney (23) after their paddleboards drifted out leaving the pair stranded overnight.

A major search was launched after the pair failed to return from paddleboarding on Wednesday evening. They had been swept away from the coast by a sudden north wind and blown out to sea.

Units including those from the Coast Guard, RNLI, Galway Lifeboat and local fishermen assisted in the search.

It was around lunchtime yesterday that fisherman Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan (18) found Ellen and Sara. They were brought to safety and taken to hospital for treatment.

Ellen’s father Johnny said this morning said that it’s “all happened so fast” since Wednesday evening. 

“There’s been so much turmoil,” he said. “We’re so relieved.”

He said that both Ellen and Sara were in good form following their ordeal. 

Glynn also described how the cousins had been very close since they were children, and were very keen on watersports so would regularly go swimming or paddleboarding.

When he and his wife Deirdre were told what happened on Wednesday evening, they both rushed to Furbo beach. 

He said: “At that stage what can you do? We were helpless.”

The parents watched as a rescue helicopter joined the search that night but was unable to locate the girls. After a sleepless night searching the coastal areas of Galway and Clare, they were facing into a crucial few hours in the search for their loved ones. 

“After that it would’ve been worst-case scenario,” Glynn said. “I just hoped they had stayed together.”

Ellen and Sara had done just that. The former’s father explained how they managed to tie their paddleboards together so as not to get separated. “That was really the best thing to do,” he said. 

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They were moving all the time over the course of the 15 hours they were in the water and were looking for a buoy they could hang on to. 

They discovered the lobster pot, and were soon within sight of the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands. 

Glynn described how they could see helicopters and boats in the distance that weren’t quite close enough to see them, as the sea had taken them further north-west than anticipated.

However, eventually they noticed a boat headed in their direction.

Glynn said: “‘Sarah said to Ellen that this boat is coming for us… That was [Oliver's]. We’re forever grateful to them.”

At the close of the interview with RTÉ, he also praised and thanked those who’d assisted in the search for his daughter and niece. 

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Sean Murray

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