'Frostbit boy' Ruairí McSorley thanks RNLI for rescuing him next to dolphin pod in Kerry

The man rescued alongside dolphins in Tralee Bay at the weekend was 'Frostbit boy', the Co. Derry actor and entertainer Ruairí McSorley,

Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 2:36 pm

The Park-native, who is best known for appearing in a UTV news package during the severe cold snap in Derry in 2015, was staying in a caravan on the Dingle peninsula.

He got into difficulty while swimming off Castlegregory beach.

Fenit RNLI said an extensive search was launched after clothes were discovered on the northern coast of the Dingle peninsula at 11am.

Ruairí McSorley

At 8.30pm, almost ten hours later, volunteer lifeboat crew with Fenit RNLI spotted a pod of dolphins and a head above the water about two and a half miles off Castlegregory. It was Mr. McSorley.

He was conscious and immediately recovered onto the lifeboat and brought Fenit Harbour to be taken to hospital. Fenit RNLI’s medical advisor was also on scene, said the RNLI.

Speaking to the Irish Independent Mr. McSorley praised the Fenit RNLI.

“They’re very professional and very slick. They’re incredible people, I have to say.

“They aren’t like doctors or paramedics – paid professionals. They’re volunteers,” he said. “They’re definitely a great group of people, there’s no doubt.

“They wrapped me up in the blankets and took my body temperature and everything and then just rushed me into the hospital.”

“There’s no victim mentality there. Other than a bit of pain at the back of my knee, I’m 100pc.

“There’s no long-term damage,” he said.

The RNLI said it was fortunate that conditions were excellent with calm waters during Sunday.

Mr. McSorley said: “The only thing was my kidneys needed to readjust, so there has been no serious harm. It was only a matter of going into the hospital to heat up a bit. Other than that, I was fine.

“You know, to be quite honest, the only thing that is stressing me out is everybody else is panicking about it.

He said he decided to attempt the swim on impulse and that he had been attempting to swim the 11 kilometres from Castlegregory where his clothes were discovered to Fenit across Tralee Bay.

“I just jumped in, and that was it. I saw Fenit lighthouse out in the water, and I said, right I’m going towards it.

“I wouldn’t have got in to start with if I didn’t know I was going to be grand.”

The Derry entertainer spoke of the remarkable experience of treading water next to the pod of dolphins prior to his rescue.

“I saw these black tails in the water, and I wasn’t sure were they dolphins or sharks. I just thought to myself, maybe it wouldn’t have been the worst idea to have googled this before I jumped in, but they were just dolphins.

“They wouldn’t have done any harm to you. I’d no problem with them.

“They were just swimming around me. If anything, they may have helped me.

“It was definitely an experience.”

"At the time of the COVID last year, there was nowhere to rent out at all anywhere, so I found this place and I lived there for a few months.

“I was only down again to lift some clothes because I’m leaving Ireland again soon.”

Commenting on the rescue Fenit RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Gerard O’Donnell said: "After a long and exhaustive search, members of the lifeboat crew were overjoyed to sight the missing swimmer in the water.

"They had been scanning the water for any sign of movement and were worried with light fading that they would not find anyone. Even at this time of year, the water can be very cold and as, yet we don’t know how long this person was in the water and when they entered it. When the lifeboat crew found them, they were a good distance from the shore and were exhausted.’

"We would advise that anyone undertaking a swim lets people know where they are going and when they expected back. This was a very lucky individual."