Details have emerged about the rescue of two hillwalkers who became trapped in a forest of rhododendron plants in the Knockmealdown Mountains.

The couple in their 50s, from Munster, endured a five-hour ordeal before being freed at the weekend by the South Eastern Mountain Rescue team.

Rescuers described reaching them through the virtually impenetrable plants on the Tipperary/Waterford border as one of their most difficult-ever tasks.

The couple had become trapped by the thick branches of the plant. The pair had been trying to get to the lake shore but the rhododendron plants had grown so much the track was eroded.

Jimmy Barry of the South Eastern Mountain Rescue said it took two hours to battle through 400 metres of jungle-like conditions to reach the couple.

When rescuers eventually reached them they forged a path to the shore.

They were all eventually removed by boat.

He said the team was "exhausted" following the rescue.

Mr Barry warned that rhododendron can be dangerous. It is not native to Ireland, but is widespread on mountains.

Some forest parks such as Killarney have removed it but it can be extremely thick and kills everything underneath making underfoot conditions hazardous.