Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Newry teens among Gaeltacht group rescued from sea

 A number of Newry teenagers were among a group of 15 students and staff of a Donegal Gaeltacht who were rescued from the sea when they got into difficulty while swimming.

The incident happened at Machaire Rabhartaigh pier on Tuesday afternoon last.  The students were attending the nearby Gaeltacht college, which is a popular annual trip for many teenagers across the district.

The alert was raised when a number of the swimmers got into difficulty after a period in the water.  The Malin Head Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Centre had received several emergency calls from members of the public reporting persons in difficulty off of the coast

The Irish Coast Guard, with support from the Tory Island ferry and Mulroy Coast Guard unit, responded to the alert.  Sailors in a nearby fishing boat brought some of the young people on board their vessel while others managed to swim to the shore.

Ten of the group were airlifted to Letterkenny Hospital by coastguard helicopter Rescue 118 while one was transported via ambulance.  Four more were treated at the scene.

None of the group were seriously injured and all but one – believed to be a teacher – were discharged from hospital later that evening.

Local Councillor Micheal Cholm MacGiolla Easbuig was at the scene.  

Praising the rescue effort and the emergency services, he said: “I want to highly praise the local fishing community who went out and took the students onto the boat, and also the Coast Guard, the ambulances and helicopter crew.

“The community as a whole deserves credit for saving lives, because that’s exactly what they did today.”

A Coast Guard spokesman described the rescue as a “very lucky outcome”, and thanked the public for alerting emergency services.

He added: “The Helicopter crew deserve special commendation for their efficient response to a difficult challenge, as do staff in Malin Head for coordinating an operation with a successful outcome.”