A pony was lost at sea this afternoon despite the best efforts of search and rescue services to recover the animal from the base of a cliff in Co Clare.
A multi-agency search and rescue operation was mounted after it was reported that a man was trapped at the bottom of a 30ft cliff at Kilcrona near Carrigaholt on the Shannon Estuary.
It later emerged that the man was not trapped but was trying to rescue a pony that had bolted earlier from a local beach.
The incident was reported to emergency services shortly before 1pm and watch officers at the Irish Coast Guard’s marine rescue sub centre on Valentia Island in Kerry set about alerting and mobilising search and rescue assets.
It is understood that the man was walking the pony along a local beach when the animal broke loose and bolted into the water. The agitated pony later came ashore on rocks a short distance away.
The Kilkee unit of the Irish Coast Guard and Kilrush RNLI lifeboat were alerted and requested to respond. The lifeboat launched and quickly located a man who was trying to hold onto a pony.
While the lifeboat crew remained off-shore, Irish Coast Guard personnel approached the area from land side. The Doolin unit of the Coast Guard was also requested to send members to assist with the rescue operation. Gardaí were also alerted and attended the incident.
Coast Guard volunteers reached the man and gave him a lifejacket and also managed to get him and the pony onto a higher and safer ledge.
Later, the RNLI lifeboat crew managed to get a rope to the animal and coax it to swim behind their vessel. The man then climbed back to the cliff top to safety accompanied by Coast Guard personnel.
The lifeboat took the pony on tow and brought it as close to the shore as safely possible before releasing it in the hope that it would swim ashore. Conditions in the area at the time were reported to be challenging and prevented the lifeboat from getting any closer to shore.
However, after the lifeboat had left the scene confused animal would not go ashore and began to swim away from land and was not recovered. The animal was lost at sea and feared drowned.
No persons were injured in the incident.