Fisherman clinging to lobster buoy is rescued in Co Donegal

Man ‘very lucky’ after cries heard by pair tending sheep near Tullagh beach

Volunteer lifeboat crew with Lough Swilly RNLI were involved in the dramatic rescue of a lone fisherman yesterday, who was found clinging to a lobster pot bouy off Tullagh beach in Clonmany, County Donegal. Video: RNLI

 

A fisherman who was rescued after being found clinging to a lobster buoy at Tullagh beach in Co Donegal has been described as “very lucky”.

The man, who had been tending to lobster pots when his boat sank, is recovering in hospital.

The alarm was raised on Sunday afternoon when his cries for help were heard by local farmer John Grant (23) as he was tending sheep near Tullagh beach, Clonmany.

Mr Grant jumped on his quad bike and headed towards the sea. He asked other walkers on the beach if they had heard someone crying for help but they said they had not. He then looked out to sea and saw a man in the distance holding onlto a lobster buoy and waving his arms for help.

“I just couldn’t believe it. I knew I had heard something but nobody else had,” Mr Grant said yesterday. “It was only when I actually focused on the sea that I could see this person flapping his arms and waving for help. I was simply in the right place at the right time. Anybody else would have done the same.”

Mr Grant contacted his mother and she alerted the Malin Head radio station.

A local fishing boat was the first to reach the stricken fisherman, who had been in the water for over an hour. The boat crew brought the man, who was extremely cold, onto their vessel.

The Lough Swilly RNLI inshore lifeboat arrived at the scene within minutes and transferred him onto the lifeboat. The volunteer crew gave the man oxygen and warmed him with blankets.

The Coast Guard rescue helicopter, which had been scrambled from Sligo then winched a paramedic on board the lifeboat to assess the man.

The lifeboat came ashore at Tullagh Beach near where the helicopter had landed. It then flew the man to Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry where his condition is said to be stable.

The man was described as “very lucky” by Joe Joyce of Lough Swilly RNLI who said it was “unbelievable” his voice had carried so far, about 400m offshore.

“John Grant’s actions are the reason why this man is alive today and he deserves great credit for it,” he said.

He said the man was also lucky to be wearing a life-jacket.

“We wish him a full recovery from his ordeal and we thank all the members of the public who had such a vital role in this rescue operation,” Mr Joyce said.