Clifden RNLI rescue two missing spear divers on St. Patrick's day callout

Lifeboats News Release

On the afternoon of 17th of March, minutes after participating in the local St Patrick’s Day parade, a full scale search and rescue operation was launched.

St. Patrick's Day callout for Clifden RNLI


St. Patrick's Day callout for Clifden RNLI

Clifden RNLI all weather and inshore lifeboats alongside Achill RNLI, the Sligo based helicopter Rescue 118, and the Cleggan Coast Guard Unit took part in a major search and rescue operation for two fishermen that had left Rossroe pier that morning in a small inflatable boat to go spear fishing on the north side of Killary harbour. The men had not been since that morning.

At 1.12pm Clifden RNLI All-Weather lifeboats The Fisherman’s Friend was requested to launch with Coxswain Alan Pryce, Mechanic Robert King, Navigator Owen Hayes and crew members Tom Davis, Kieran Folan and David Coyne.

The D class inshore lifeboat Celia Mary was transported by road to Rossroe and was crewed by Helm James Mullen and crewed by Brian Ward, David O Reilly and Ian Shanahan. Shore crew volunteer Fergal Conneely drove the Land Rover with the inshore lifeboat in tow to launch at Rossroe pier.

Clifden’s inshore lifeboat arrived on the scene joining Rescue 118. The crew were briefed by the local fisherman who had reported them missing. When he was out fishing about one and a half hours previously he had seen them spear fishing on the north side of the bay with a small inflatable with an outboard engine. However, he hadn’t seen them or their inflatable since and as their van was still on the pier, with the weather deteriorating he decided to call for assistance.

The weather on scene was north easterly force 5-6 wind and Rescue 118 were conducting an aerial search of the bay. The lifeboat crew then spotted a small inflatable with two people onboard trying to hang onto a barge.

Clifden RNLI Helm James Mullen explains; ‘I informed Rescue 118 of the possible sighting and they proceeded to the area with us. When we arrived on scene the two men informed us that they were the two missing spear divers. Their engine had broken down and they had tried to swim the across the bay with their boat but it had become swamped. Their legs had cramped and they were both exhausted. We towed them back to the pier at Rossroe and helped them recover their boat at 2.00pm.'

Clifden RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager John Brittain added ‘The inshore D Class lifeboat, Celia Mary, which was just named in a ceremony last year, has once again proved how much of a valuable asset it is to our station. We are delighted to have been able to respond and bring these people to safety and are also very thankful for the vigilance of the local fisherman who raised the alarm and potentially avoided a much worse outcome today’.


RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact Catherine Pryce Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer for Clifden RNLI Tel: 086 400 6666 or Niamh Stephenson RNLI Public Relations Manager Tel: 087 1254 124 / 01 8900 460 email or Nuala McAloon RNLI Press Officer Tel: 087 6483547 email:

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