Teenage kayakers found trapped in Cork cave


THE MOTHER of a teenage kayaker who got into difficulty off Rosscarbery, Co Cork, and had to stand on a ledge for nearly five hours on Saturday before he and his girlfriend were rescued, yesterday expressed her gratitude to Baltimore lifeboat.

Eoin Bourke and his girlfriend Alison O’Keeffe, from Douglas in Cork city, were fortunate to escape alive having been discovered trapped in a cave late at night by the lifeboat’s crew. The pair had left at 7pm and had got into difficulty at Pouladav cave at 7.30pm when they were tossed out of their kayaks in turbulent conditions.

Shortly before 10pm the Coast Guard issued a call for assistance after the two 17-year-olds failed to arrive back to shore at the scheduled time.

The all-weather lifeboat ALB Alan Massey and the inshore lifeboat ILB Bessie were launched to investigate.

While the search was continuing, Baltimore RNLI lifeboat helm John Kearney heard what he thought was a faint whistle coming from Pouladav cave, known locally for its blowhole.

The lifeboat crew were unable to enter the cave due to the dangerous surf conditions, so a small boarding boat was launched.

The boat could advance only to within 50m of the cave due to the rough sea conditions.

Mr Kearney swam the last 50m to reach the two kayakers. Eoin and Alison were clinging to a rock surface while waves broke around them. They were both wearing lifejackets.

Mr Kearney carried each of them in turn over his shoulder in chest-high water to the boarding boat.

Eoin and Alison were then taken to the inshore lifeboat, where they were assessed medically and deemed fit to return to shore. The inshore lifeboat brought them to their families at Mill Cove.

Caroline Bourke, mother of Eoin, said she was extremely grateful to Baltimore lifeboat for its assistance.

“Eoin said it was like a washing machine in there. Eoin got up on a ledge and pulled Allie up to safety. The relief is unimaginable. We had expected them to be home by 8.30pm and we were worried when they didn’t return.

“Eoin kept very calm for Allie. He thought they were going to drown. They were rescued at 12.15am, so they were on the ledge for nearly five hours. We are so grateful to the local people, the Coast Guard and the lifeboat station. I would hope that it highlights the need for more lifeboats.”

Mr Kearney said he was relieved when he heard the sound coming from the cave. “I was convinced that I had heard a sound and was concerned for the safety of the kayakers. I will never forget the relief I felt when I saw the two young people alive and safe inside the cave. They were very brave and did exactly what they needed to do to get to safety.”