Dramatic footage has emerged of last Saturday night’s rescue of three American students trapped at the base of a cliff in west Kerry.

The three young women had a lucky escape when they were trapped by the incoming tide 200 metres to the south of Com Dhíneol (Coumeenole) beach, a well-known beauty spot on the Slea Head Drive.

The women managed to climb to a ledge about six metres up to escape the waves. Luckily, the women had a weak ‘one-bar’ mobile phone signal which allowed them to make a distress call.  

About 20 members of the Dingle Coast Guard responded to the emergency call. They were assisted by Valentia Lifeboat and the Shannon-based Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115.

On assessing the situation it was decided not to attempt a helicopter rescue as it was feared that strong down draught from the craft could knock the women off the precarious ledge. 

Dramatic footage captured in the dark by the Coast Guard helicopter shows a member of the Dingle Coast Guard unit descending the cliff by rope and securing one of the women with a harness before being hauled to safety by the rest of the team stationed above. 

The rescue operation took two hours to complete. The women were suffering from the early stages of hypothermia and were immediately treated by a team of paramedics before being taken away by ambulance.

Last night, the three women, who are spending a semester studying in Dingle visited the local Coast Guard station to offer their thanks to the team that rescued them.

"It was a very nice gesture. The three girls came down to the station to personally thank us for the rescue with a thank-you card and homemade cookies. It was very kind of them," said team leader Frank Heidtke.

"It was lovely to see them looking so healthy and fit. It must have been a very traumatic experience for them. Thankfully, our team managed to get the job done," he added.