Woman in Great Blasket rescue drama
Rescue workers clawed their way up steep rocks in complete darkness on Thursday to reach an injured woman on one of Ireland's most remote islands.
Sue Redican was returning from a friend's house on the largely uninhabited Great Blasket Island, off the Co Kerry coast, in the early hours when she stumbled on treacherous terrain and broke her ankle.
In great pain, the 49-year-old Welsh woman managed to crawl home and raised the alarm with the Valentia Coast Guard at around 3.40am. A 10-hour rescue effort saw volunteers from the Fenit RNLI lifeboat crew arrive on the island and struggle over rough and slippery ground to the house - around 600 feet above sea level.
Ms Redican was stretchered to a waiting boat and brought to shore at Dingle, where an ambulance rushed her to hospital for treatment.
Recovering in Tralee General Hospital, the professional weaver and spinner said she was extremely grateful to the rescue team and a friend who accompanied her on the boat.
"They didn't have an easy task trying to get down the rocks to the slipway but they managed to carry me down," she said. "They were just brilliant."
Ms Redican, who has spent her summer months on Great Blasket Island for the past 23 years, must now undergo surgery to have a plate inserted into her left ankle. But she vowed to return to the island, famed for its wild scenery, as soon as possible. "I'm dying to get back," she said. "It's a beautiful place and I love the peace and quiet."
Gerard O'Donnell, lifeboat operations manager for Fenit RNLI, admitted the call-out had been challenging. "The water was very shallow at the landing point so the crew had to launch a small inflatable XP boat to access the island," he said. "The lady was in a lot of distress when we got there - it was a nasty injury but we were able to give her painkilling gas, which helped."
Mr O'Donnell said around 15 volunteers had stayed up through the night to make sure Ms Redican was brought to safety.
"It was a long night and everybody's quite tired but it's lovely in this day and age to be able to help someone," he added.