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Omagh man caught in a rip current runs Dublin marathon in bare feet

Lifeboats News Release

An Omagh man who was rescued by the Irish Coast Guard after he got caught in a rip current on a Donegal beach in July has completed the Dublin marathon in his bare feet to raise awareness of water safety and to raise funds for the RNLI.

Chris Gallagher completes the Dublin marathon in bare feet
Chris Gallagher completes the Dublin marathon in bare feet

A seasoned open water swimmer, Chris Gallagher was visiting Murder Hole Beach when he got caught in a rip current: ‘I am an experienced swimmer, having previously been a lifeguard and a world record swimmer as well as swimming all over the world including in Australia but I have never been caught like this before. I wasn’t even 10m out into the water when the ferocious rip caught me and threw me about like what I can only describe as being in an industrial washing machine and a racing car at the same time, it was powerful, and I had absolutely no control. I felt calm initially as I know how to work my way out of a rip curl as I was caught in Australian waters 22 years ago but nothing I tried worked. By the grace of God, a rock was in my grasp as I was being pulled into the rip roaring waters and I managed to get my body out of the water onto that wee rock but I was fighting the waves to stay on as they threw me on and off like a rag doll. I was clinging to the rock for dear life for two hours.’

Given the conditions, the Irish Coast Guard helicopter, Rescue 118 from Sligo was tasked and rescued him.

Since he was rescued, Chris has signed up to be a water safety volunteer with the RNLI with a particular interest in highlighting the dangers of open water swimming. He has also done a series of inspiring fundraising events with his most recent venture to not only undertake doing the Dublin marathon but to do it in his bare feet which he completed successfully last Sunday. He also did the Kerry Hardman Ironman triathlon on his birthday in August and in September, completed a 5k swim of Glencar Lough in Sligo. To round off his series of events, he is running an eighties themed night this Saturday 5 November in the Village Inn in Killyclogher. Proceeds from all events will go to Bundoran RNLI and Lough Erne RNLI where there are two lifeboat stations at Enniskillen and Carrybridge.

Speaking of his efforts to raise both funds and water safety awareness, RNLI Community Manager Nuala Muldoon said: ‘Chris really is an inspiration and his own rescue story highlights how even the most experienced water users can still find themselves in difficulty. We are delighted that he is now promoting water safety and are in awe at how adventurous he has been in setting himself courageous challenges in his pursuit to raise funds. Thanks to Chris, the proceeds raised will now power our lifesaving volunteer crews to continue their good work in saving lives both at sea and on inland waters.’


Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.