Group of 15 from Irish college swept out to sea off Donegal

Local boats assist in rescue as almost a dozen taken to hospital after getting into difficulty

The Irish Coastguard dispatched its Rescue 118 helicopter from Sligo (stock image). Photograph: Irish Coast Guard / PA

The Irish Coastguard dispatched its Rescue 118 helicopter from Sligo (stock image). Photograph: Irish Coast Guard / PA


A group of teenagers attending an Irish college in Co Donegal were swept out to sea while swimming on Tuesday.

The alarm was raised when several members of the public made 999 calls after spotting the group swimming from Magheroarty pier and becoming concerned that they seemed to be in difficulty.

The Irish Coastguard was then alerted and immediately dispatched its Rescue 118 helicopter from Sligo. The Mulroy Coast Guard Unit and a HSE ambulance were also tasked with responding to the incident.

The operation was coordinated by the Malin Head Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Centre, which issued a general request for assistance to vessels in the area.

“Through our broadcast, we got local boats and the Tory Ferry Queen of Aran to assist in getting people out of the water,” said a spokesman for Malin Head Coast Guard.

The group in difficulty comprised 15 people who were all part of the one group attending a local Irish college called Coláiste Mhachaire Rabhartaigh.

Ten were taken to Letterkenny Hospital by helicopter while another was brought by ambulance. The rest were assessed by paramedics at the scene.

It is understood none of the group received life-threatening injuries but some were suffering from hypothermia after being in the water for a time. Some of the group had ingested water, and some were in shock.

In a statement, Gael Linn, which runs the college, said the group that got into difficulty comprised both students and staff.

It thanked rescue services that “ensured a sucessful outcome”, and said the parents of students involved has been “contacted immediately”.

“The good news is that everybody is fine and all have been discharged with the exception of the college principal who is making a good recovery,” the statement added.

The group had been taking part in the water for about an hour before getting into difficulty.

A spokesman for the Irish Coast Guard said it was “a very lucky outcome” and thanked the public for speedily alerting the Coast Guard Rescue services.

“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,” he added.