By Pat Flynn
Two fishermen feared missing in Galway Bay overnight have been found safe and well.
An air and sea search was mounted early this morning after their small fishing boat was reported overdue last night.
The vessel had left Costelloe Bay in Connemara yesterday but failed to return to port by nightfall.
The alarm was raised and the Aran Islands RNLI lifeboat was launched at around 1.15am. The Shannon-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter - Rescue 115 - joined the search soon afterwards.
A comprehensive search of the Galway Bay area between Rossaveel and the three Aran Islands was carried out before being called off at around 4am.
The operation resumed this morning with Rescue 115 carrying further searches of Galway Bay, the Aran Islands and the South Galway and North Clare coastlines.
The search was called off at around 10.30am after it was confirmed the boat had returned to port under its own power and that both occupants were safe. It is understood the boat suffered technical problems in poor weather.
Sea conditions overnight and this morning were described as challenging.
Meanwhile, at around 9.30am while taking part in the search, Rescue 115 was requested to undertake an urgent medical evacuation from Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands. As the helicopter was in the Galway Bay area at the time, the crew was able to respond quickly. A patient has been airlifted to University Hospital Galway.
Both operations were coordinated by watch officers at the Irish Coast Guard’s marine rescue sub centre at Valentia in Kerry.