‘It was a miracle’ - rescued climber

Cormac Nolan, the 26-year-old hiker from Ballon, Co. Carlow, who was rescued after falling at Slieve League on New Year’s Day, has thanked all those involved in what he says was a “miracle” rescue.

Cormac Nolan, the 26-year-old hiker from Ballon, Co. Carlow, who was rescued after falling at Slieve League on New Year’s Day, has thanked all those involved in what he says was a “miracle” rescue.

Cormac was heading back from top of Slieve League when he slipped and fell around 350 metres shortly after 1pm. He was able to use his mobile phone to raise the alarm, sparking a marathon rescue operation that involved around 50 volunteers and lasted nearly 12 hours.

He said: “I can’t thank my rescuers enough for what they did. They were up against very tough conditions and they must have been exhausted.”

He described his fall and the immediate aftermath.

“On my way down I slipped in the wrong place and ended up on a ledge beside rocks. When helicopter rescuers saw me I was told they reckoned I must have fallen about 350 metres.

“The only reason I was OK in the end was it wasn’t one big fall. I was about 50 metres up from the sea when I slithered on to a ledge that saved me from falling the rest of the way.

“I was grasping with my bare hands and they were getting caught as I was trying to stop the fall. I was moving quite quickly and I didn’t have anything to hang on to. The whole thing felt like it lasted a couple of minutes but it must have been quicker.

“I was slipping and sliding all the way down, unable to hold on to anything with my bare hands to stop the fall until suddenly I was on a ledge.

“It was actually quite big, about 10 ft square, but it was sloping and the only part of it that was not wet and slippy was where I was sitting. When I felt I had to stretch my legs to keep the circulation going, the best I could do to avoid spreading them out beyond the dry part was to wiggle my toes.

“But honest to God, it was a miracle. When I looked back up I wondered how on earth I survived.”

“I was in shock but I knew straight away I was not going to escape on my own. Someone would have to get me out.

“I still had my mobile phone and I called my brother and a friend. I also dialled 999 and they put me on to the Coast Guard.

“When I heard someone was one the way, I made my mind up that I just had to sit tight.”

Cormac was brought to Sligo General Hospital for treatment of minor injuries, hypothermia and exhaustion.