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euphoric shock Galway paddleboarder Ellen Glynn reflects on being lost at sea a year on

They were found clinging to their paddleboards, both suffering hypothermia and exhausted from constant swells, relentless overnight rain and lightning

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Ellen Glynn and her cousin Sara Feeney were lost at sea for 15 hours before being rescued

Ellen Glynn and her cousin Sara Feeney were lost at sea for 15 hours before being rescued

Ellen Glynn and her cousin Sara Feeney were lost at sea for 15 hours before being rescued

Tomorrow will mark one year to the day teenager Ellen Glynn and her cousin Sara Feeney paddled out from Furbo beach, and the water was calm.

Minutes later, they were swept away in a freak wind change.

It was 15 hours later, 33km away, that they were found clinging to their paddleboards, both suffering hypothermia and exhausted from constant swells, relentless overnight rain and lightning.

Just as hopes were fading, their saviours came in the form of Patrick and Morgan Oliver, father-and-son fishermen who had searched for them since first light.

Ellen Glynn was 17, while Sara Feeney was 23. In the days after their rescue, Ellen gave several quite cheerful interviews. She admits now she was in a state of almost euphoric shock.

The reality of how close they came to losing their lives didn't hit her for months.

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Sara Feeney

Sara Feeney

Sara Feeney

"In some ways, it was a really quick year, but in some ways, it wasn't. I think it was in November; I remember thinking I had such a different perspective than I had when I gave interviews immediately after.

"I was on such a high. I was so happy to be back and safe. I didn't want to drag people down either. It came in different stages. At the end of October, I couldn't do anything. I couldn't sleep. I could barely write at school. I couldn't read; the words would be jumping.

"It was bound to happen," Ellen sighs. Breaking into a laugh, she adds: "But then I got fixed up."

The girls were back in the news recently after an outstanding RTÉ radio documentary aired. It brought their situation, that horrific night alone at sea, to life in ways it hadn't before.

The girls stayed awake, which ultimately led to their survival, by singing Taylor Swift songs. Their rescue so moved the global superstar she wrote Ellen a three-page letter and painted a picture of a seascape with a calm sky in the hope it brought her comfort. Ellen was blown away by the gesture.

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"It was so genuine. She sat down and wrote that with a pen in her hand, and she painted the picture. I couldn't believe it. For a few days after the package arrived, I was up in the clouds."


Ellen said that she wants to keep the letter private.

In the weeks and months after the rescue, Ellen and Sara endured rather than enjoyed a strange celebrity status around Galway.

"We seemed to be kind of famous, alright. People used to be coming up to me a lot.

"One day I was walking through town with my friend and this girl was sitting outside a pub, and she shouted at me to come over. She took a selfie of me and invited me to sit down with her. I stayed talking to her for 45 minutes."

Ellen has not been paddleboarding since, but she hopes to soon.

"About two weeks ago, I had fully intended to go paddleboarding. I thought to myself; I was just going to do it. The weather forecast was good, and it was high tide at six o'clock in the evening.

"So I went to the beach, and it just started bucketing rain, and then there was thunder and lightning. I took it as a sign and went home.

"It (paddleboarding) is so nice to do, and I love it. It would be such a shame not to do it anymore."

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