THANK GOD THEY'RE SAFE; Joyful Scenes as Boat Arrives after Dramatic Search in Stormy Seas

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Byline: BY JOHN FALLON

THE families of three trawlermen feared lost at sea told of their relief yesterday as their boat made it safely back to shore.

Relatives braved wind and rain on the pier at Rossaveal in Co Galway to greet the three men as the Banrion na dTonn limped into port shortly after 5am.

The 42ft trawler left Killybegs in Co Donegal on Wednesday afternoon for Rossaveal but the alarm was raised when they failed to arrive around noon on Friday as they had planned.

Skipper Ted Doherty, an experienced fisherman, had recently bought the timber-hulled vessel and was taking it to the Connemara port for work to be done on it.

A massive search was launched when they failed to arrive and could not be contacted either on radio or by mobile.

On board was Ted, a single man in his 40s from Co Kildare, and two men in their 30s from Galway city - Aidan Murphy, a father of two from Mervue, and Padraic Ganley, a single man from Castle Park in Ballybane.

Two Coastguard helicopters and an Air Corps plane searched the coast for the missing ship as fishing boats and other vessels joined in the search.

The operation was hampered by stormy seas and fears for the men increased when there was no sign of them as darkness fell on Friday night.

Rescue efforts resumed at first light on Saturday as family members travelled to Rossaveal fearing the worst.

But their anguish turned to joy shortly before midday when a Spanish fishing trawler spotted the Banrion na dTonn Queen of the Waves about 50 miles off Slyne Head.

A Coastguard Sikorsky S-61 helicopter flew to the scene and confirmed the identification of the vessel and the safety of the crew. …