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Bank holiday safety warnings after tragedy in Garrettstown

May 1st, 2021 8:00 PM

By Kieran O'Mahony

The crew from Courtmacsherry all weather Trent Class RNLI lifeboat Frederick Storey Cockburn were on call last Sunday afternoon during a very busy weekend at sea.

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EMERGENCY services are urging members of the public to take extra care over the bank holiday weekend, following three major rescue operations in West Cork last weekend, and the death of one young Corkman.

Last Saturday night, 22-year-old Conor King from Douglas died after he fell through a blowhole cliff at Garrettstown, while camping there with friends.

And this week Vincent O’Donovan of Courtmacsherry RNLI stressed the need for the public to take care if engaging in any water activities, or planning any coastline walks this weekend.

‘The forecast looks reasonably good for this weekend, but winds and tides change all the time and as we know so well,’ he told The Southern Star. ‘A calm sea might soon become a cruel sea, in a short period of time.’

‘Please be extra careful and never put yourself or your family in danger. Please respect the sea,’ he urged.

He also reminded beach-goers that sea temperatures are still very low, so swimming should be kept to short periods of time.

The Courtmacsherry RNLI volunteer crew were involved in three callouts last weekend, as people flocked to beaches due to the fine weather.

The crew received their first callout on Friday evening to go to the assistance of a swimmer who had got into difficulty at Broadstrand, near Courtmacsherry. The local lifeboat, under coxswain Mark Gannon and a crew of six, made its way to the beach.

However, in the meantime, Dylan Green, a kitesurfer from Ballinadee, who was offshore, was alerted to the situation and rescued the swimmer. He located her about 100 metres off the rocks in rough conditions, plucked her from the sea, and then used the benefit of the onshore wind and his kite to bring her ashore.

The woman was assessed by local medical personnel and she was able to return home.

Brian O’Dwyer, operations manager with the Courtmacsherry RNLI said: ‘It was amazing to witness myself, the great skill of the kitesurfer who prevented a very serious incident from happening.’ He also thanked the person who called 999.

The crew’s second callout occurred on Saturday morning, when they went to the rescue of four people who got into difficulty off Garrettstown strand. They were rescued by nearby surfers just as the lifeboat reached them.

The following day, they were also called out  at 3.40pm – following reports that a surfer was in difficulty off Garrylucas beach. However, following a search of the area, the operation was stood down.

Meanwhile, six people  were wenched by Rescue helicopter R117 on Sunday afternoon after they got cut off by the tide at Rocky Bay beach, near Minane Bridge.

The alarm was raised at 4pm and both the Oysterhaven and Crosshaven Coast Guards were tasked to the scene, along with R117. Luckily, there were no casualties and no medical assistance was required.

Meanwhile, Conor King’s funeral took place on Wednesday, on what would have been his 23rd birthday.

Many tributes have been paid to the MTU third year biomedical engineering student, including from Rochestown Park Hotel, where he had worked part-time as a leisure centre lifeguard since he was 18.

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