|John Kearny swam into the cave in darkness to rescue the teenagers.|
Eoin Bourke and his girlfriend Alison O’Keeffe, from Douglas in Cork city, were fortunate to escape alive having been discovered trapped in a cave late at night by the lifeboat’s crew. The pair had left at 7pm and had got into difficulty at Pouladav cave at 7.30pm when they were tossed out of their kayaks in turbulent conditions.
Shortly before 10pm the Coast Guard issued a call for assistance after the two 17-year-olds failed to arrive back to shore at the scheduled time.
The all-weather lifeboat ALB Alan Massey and the inshore lifeboat ILB Bessie were launched to investigate.
While the search was continuing, Baltimore RNLI lifeboat helm John Kearney heard what he thought was a faint whistle coming from Pouladav cave, known locally for its blowhole.
The lifeboat crew were unable to enter the cave due to the dangerous surf conditions, so a small boarding boat was launched.
The boat could advance only to within 50m of the cave due to the rough sea conditions.
Mr Kearney swam the last 50m to reach the two kayakers. Eoin and Alison were clinging to a rock surface while waves broke around them. They were both wearing lifejackets.
Mr Kearney carried each of them in turn over his shoulder in chest-high water to the boarding boat.
Eoin and Alison were then taken to the inshore lifeboat, where they were assessed medically and deemed fit to return to shore. The inshore lifeboat brought them to their families at Mill Cove.
Caroline Bourke, mother of Eoin, said she was extremely grateful to Baltimore lifeboat for its assistance.
“Eoin said it was like a washing machine in there. Eoin got up on a ledge and pulled Allie up to safety. The relief is unimaginable. We had expected them to be home by 8.30pm and we were worried when they didn’t return.
“Eoin kept very calm for Allie. He thought they were going to drown. They were rescued at 12.15am, so they were on the ledge for nearly five hours. We are so grateful to the local people, the Coast Guard and the lifeboat station. I would hope that it highlights the need for more lifeboats.”
Mr Kearney said he was relieved when he heard the sound coming from the cave. “I was convinced that I had heard a sound and was concerned for the safety of the kayakers. I will never forget the relief I felt when I saw the two young people alive and safe inside the cave. They were very brave and did exactly what they needed to do to get to safety.”
Source: The Irish Times
Lifeboat man tells of treacherous conditions during late night cave rescue
Further details have emerged on the dramatic events of last night (Saturday, August 4th) and early this morning which saw two young kayakers, Eoin Bourke and his girlfriend Alison O’Keeffe from Douglas in Cork city, rescued after they became trapped in Mill Cave, West Cork.
The rescue involved a Baltimore RNLI crewmember swimming into a narrow cave in challenging sea conditions and bringing the two young kayakers to safety.
The two teenagers had been reported missing from Rosscarbery on Saturday evening after they had not returned home at their expected time.
A huge search was mounted involving Baltimore RNLI and Irish Coast Guard Units.
At 23:00, while the search was ongoing, Baltimore RNLI lifeboat Helm John Kearney heard what he thought was a faint whistle coming from Pouladav cave, known locally for its’ blowhole.
The lifeboat crew were aboard the RNLI Atlantic 75 inshore lifeboat Bessie but could not enter the cave due to the dangerous surf conditions.
The lifeboat crew then launched a small boarding boat from their all weather lifeboat Alan Massey with volunteer crewmembers Ger Sheehy and Sean McCarthy.
This smaller boat could only advance within 50 metres of the cave summit due to the area being awash with surf and again too dangerous.
RNLI crewmember John Kearney, an experienced sea swimmer, went into the water and swam the last 50 metres to reach the two kayakers.
The boy and girl were clinging to a rock surface while waves broke around them.
Both the youngsters were cold and tired.
John carried each of them in turn over his shoulder in chest high water to the boarding boat.
Considerable skill was required of Ger Sheehy to keep the small boat steady so that they could be retrieved with the assistance of Sean McCarthy.
The teenage girl and boy were then taken to the inshore lifeboat, where they were given a medical assessment and deemed to be fit to return to shore.
The inshore lifeboat brought them directly to their families at Mill Cove, where they were assessed by a doctor.
They were taken onboard the inshore lifeboat, which then brought them directly to their families who were anxiously waiting at Mill Cove.
The entire incident took place in the hours of darkness
John Kearney said, “The water in the cave was churning like a washing machine, however I was convinced that I had heard a sound and was concerned for the safety of the kayakers.
“I will never forget the relief I felt when I saw the two young people alive and safe inside the cave.
“They were very brave and did exactly what they needed to do to get to safety.
We are very lucky to have two lifeboats in Baltimore, and by using all of our available resources and training we were able to bring these young people to safety”.
Source: West Cork Times