An eight-year-old boy was dramatically rescued after he was swept out to sea at the notorious Doughmore Beach in west Clare yesterday in what was a busy day for emergency services.
A major search and rescue operation was mounted after two people were reported to be in difficulty in the sea; an adult male managed to make it back to shore but the child was taken further out to sea.
The Kilkee and Doolin units of the Irish Coast Guard were dispatched to the incident along with Rescue 115 and the Cork-based Irish Community Air Ambulance.
The Irish Coast Guard issued a radio broadcast requesting any boats in the area to assist if they were in a position to do so.
At least one vessel that was close to the scene at the time offered assistance and made its way to the location.
Two young men, believed to be from Shannon, also entered the water in an effort to reach the children. One of the brave pair rescued one child while the second managed to reach the second but the rip pulled them apart. Their friend also called the emergency services.
A lifeguard based at Whitestrand beach, about 8 kilometres from the scene, was alerted to the incident and asked another person to drive her to the scene at Doughmore so she could assist.
In the meantime, the crew of Rescue 115 arrived on scene and quickly located the child.
The helicopter winchman/paramedic was dropped into water and he recovered the child and took him to safety. The boy, understood to be a non-Irish national, was assessed at the scene by ambulance paramedics.
When it was confirmed the child did not require to be airlifted to hospital, the crew of Rescue 115 was retasked to an unfolding serious incident in Ennis.
The adult male was also treated by paramedics after he ingested some seawater and was left shaken.
One eyewitness said: “There were a lot of people there to help. That child had to be a strong swimmer to keep himself above water for that long but he was starting to go under.
"His head disappeared below the water a few times just before the helicopter arrived.
"I don’t know why people go swimming here. There’s loads of signs and you won’t find locals swimming here.”
Just last week, one person was airlifted to hospital after getting into difficulty at the same beach.
While Doughmore is popular with surfers it’s considered too dangerous for swimming and warning signs advise swimmers of the dangers of the local rip currents.
As Rescue 115 was returning to base in Shannon they were requested to divert to Lough Derg to an incident involving a swimmer.
Ambulance paramedics, gardaí, and the Killaloe unit of the Irish Coast Guard were also tasked to the scene.
The alarm was raised at around 7.30pm when members of the public called 999 to report a swimmer in difficulty near Two-Mile-Gate on the Clare shore of the lake.
When Rescue 115 arrived on scene they located the swimmer and directed the Killaloe Coast Guard rescue boat to the location.
The person was taken on board the boat and brought to the pier at Two-Mile-Gate where a Coast Guard shore team, local gardaí, and National Ambulance Service paramedics were waiting to assist the casualty.
When the swimmer was safely ashore and was found not to be in need of medical assistance, the rescue services were stood down.
It’s understood two kayakers remained with the swimmer until rescue teams arrived.
All four missions were coordinated by watch officers at the Irish Coast Guard's marine rescue sub centre on Valentia Island in Kerry.
Meanwhile, a young child was injured in a fall near Doolin last evening.
It’s understood that the child, who had been holidaying in the area with family, was injured in a fall from a low cliff at Ballaghaline.
The child’s mother, understood to be a doctor, cared for the child while volunteers from the Doolin unit of the Irish Coast Guard also lent assistance and provided a medical kit to the woman.
After administering first aid at the scene, the child was transported to hospital by car by their parents. The child is understood to have sustained a head injury.