Claddagh fishermen Patrick and Morgan Oliver have been honoured at a mayoral reception in Galway for their heroic rescue of two paddle boarders in August.
Sara Feeney, 23, and 17-year-old Ellen Glynn were brought to safety by the father and son team after being stranded overnight at sea. The two cousins were also recognised for their bravery today.
The event was tightly controlled in compliance with public health guidelines but the story that brought joy to the nation had everyone smiling again.
Both the families of the fishermen and the young women they rescued off Galway Bay attended the ceremony at Leisureland in Salthill as well as local dignitaries.
The Mayor of Galway, Mike Cubbard, presented the Olivers with a framed presentation scroll and a bronze model of a traditional Irish currach in honour of their achievements in saving the lives of Ms Feeney and Ms Glynn.
Mr Cubbard described the Olivers as "Claddagh royalty" saying "the rescue highlights the fantastic community spirit which exists in Galway as hundreds of people across the city and county offered their help with the search operation".
It was the story that captivated the nation. Two cousins located alive off Inis Oirr 15 hours after drifting out to sea. The Olivers commended the girls for "doing everything right" by staying together and attaching their paddle boards to the marker buoy of a lobster pot.
Today Ellen said she was still shaky after her life-changing experience but deeply grateful to the Olivers, the rescue services and volunteers who came out to search for her and Sara.
Helen Feeney, Sara's mother, said it was a profound experience that is difficult to process and articulate but having her daughter back is all that matters. She said she needs for nothing more.
Johnny Glynn, Ellen’s father expressed his gratitude to the Olivers and the support of the community during their traumatic ordeal.
Ellen and Sara were presented with small gifts of jewellery in recognition of their bravery.
Both father and son received international praise for their remarkable knowledge in working out the location of the paddle boarders using tidal and weather information.
Afloat magazine described the rescue as "brilliant" and said Patrick and Morgan Oliver had displayed "genius level detailed navigational and sea and wind calculations".
Today was about celebrating the Olivers but it also served to highlight the role of the fishing community in search and rescue missions around the country.
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