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Man dies in Sligo mountain cliff fall as rescue team saves the life of climbing partner

The scene of the incident is close to the scenic Diarmuid and Gráinne caves.

The SLMR rescue team above the site of the incident.
The SLMR rescue team above the site of the incident.
Image: SLMR/Alan Sayers

A MAN HAS died after falling 200 metres as his walking partner was trapped on a dangerous cliff side in County Sligo.

The incident happened yesterday afternoon at the Gleniff Horseshoe, near Benbulbin.

Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescue (SLMR) were called to the scene at 4.10pm to rescue the woman, who is a Spanish national, and to recover the body of the man. 

Ciaran Davis of the SLMR said the alarm was raised by a member of the public who witnessed the incident.  

The scene is close to the treacherous location of Diarmuid and Gráinne’s cave, which has become popular with visitors to the area following posts by online influencers. 

The mountain rescue team have repeated their plea for walkers to stay away from the area. 

Davis said the speed of response of his team was greatly helped by the quick actions of the two women who saw the fall. 

“On Thursday afternoon two local females walking in the Gleniff Horseshoe witnessed a fall from high up on the very steep Annacoona cliffs and immediately called 999 for help.

“We were tasked at 1640hrs and immediately initiated a full team callout. Our initial reaction team quickly ascertained that a person in distress and in immediate danger was cragfast on a ledge right up on the cliff face.

“Due to the high risk of further tragedy, we requested the assistance of the Coastguard Helicopter service based in Strandhill, Rescue 118, and also asked our neighbouring Team Donegal Mountain Rescue for additional personnel,” he said.

Image from iOS (5) Source: SLMR/Alan Sayers

The helicopter ferried an eight person team to the cliff top near the scene who then abseiled in to rescue the woman while another group recovered the body of the man. 

“We quickly set up a rope rescue system and two Team members abseiled over 100 metres to her location and were able to extract her by hauling her back up to the mountain top from where she was airlifted to Sligo University Hospital for additional assessment.

“Simultaneously second team of MR personnel was able to access the remains of the second casualty, a male who had fallen approximately 200 metres. We were able to remove his remains from the scene safely and with dignity by stretcher by 2030hrs.

“This incident involved 20 Mountain Rescue members, the Coastguard helicopter and local Gardaí from Grange all working closely together in a coordinated manner.”

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shutterstock_1550546651 A stock image of the DIarmuid and Grainne Cave County Sligo. Source: Shutterstock/Conor Phelan

Appeal

Davis made a plea to people to take care in the area and said it was treacherous for those with out the necessary equipment or training. 

“As a mountain rescue team, we have carried out multiple rescues in this area, including a similar tragedy in 2008 when a Polish national died in the same area,” he said.

“We have highlighted the dangers of people without the necessary experience and equipment walking and climbing in this location both in the media and by signage.

“Indeed, we recently trained intensely in this location for just such a scenario which allowed us to respond with maximum efficiency.”

He added: “As a team we wish to extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased man.”  

Gardaí said they believe the incident was a tragic accident and were now compiling a file for the local coroner.

“A man in his 20s was pronounced dead at the scene. His body has since been removed to Sligo University Hospital where a post mortem will be conducted at a later date,” a spokesperson said. 

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