A YOUNG Killarney man is being hailed as a hero after he raced to the rescue of a number of tourists who had fallen into the Lakes of Killarney after a boat became submerged in water in very poor weather conditions.
There were 12 people on the vessel when it became swamped in choppy waters, whipped up by strong winds, as it made its way from Ross Castle to the Gap of Dunloe yesterday morning.
They managed to cling to the boat when it became submerged but five bicycles they were transporting with them, as well as personal belongings such as cameras and mobile phones, were lost.
Another boat ferrying more passengers, which attempted to come to their assistance, also got into difficulty when, it is reported, it careered into the stricken vessel and ropes became entangled.
The victims were eventually rescued when 26-year-old Donal O’Donoghue, Jnr, who operates a Gap of Dunloe touring boat for an entirely separate company, sprang to their aid.
He had earlier turned back from a trip to the Gap because of the strong winds and he was alerted to the submerging incident by a waterbus that was in the vicinity.
“I had turned back earlier because the cover of my engine was blown off by the wind and I decided it was not safe,” he said.
Donal was dropping five passengers to nearby Innisfallen Island but he transferred his customers to the waterbus and rushed out to where the boats were in difficulty.
“When I arrive I could just see the top of the engine and the top of the boat and, as far as I could see, everything else was under water,” he told KillarneyToday.com.
Donal – known locally as Dux – brought the rescued passengers – which totalled up to 15 or 16 from both boats – to the area known as Library Point for shelter before they were returned safely to Ross Castle.
The frightening incident occurred at around 11.15am at Foilcoille Point on Lough Leane which is known to have pockets of up to 50ft deep.
While some of the passengers were very shaken, it is understood that no injuries were reported.
A Department of Transport spokesperson told KillarneyToday.com that a report on the matter has been received from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and an investigation has already commenced.
A spokesman for Gardaí in Killarney, meanwhile, said it was a matter for department officials to investigate but a number of people involved had called to the garda station to report that they had lost property in the incident.
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