On September 29th 1985 Charles Haughey TD Leader of Fianna Fail was sailing his 42' yacht Taurima round the Mizen when she was driven into the gulley below the back of the Workmen's Quarters and wrecked. The Keepers in the Signal Station went to their aid, shining lights on them and keeping them up to date with their rescuers' progress. The Keepers had immediately called the Baltimore Lifeboat which took them off the cliffs and delivered them safe and sound into Baltimore that night. Charles Haughey returned ten years later to present a clock from the Taurima to the Mizen.
TWENTY-ONE years after the dramatic sea rescue, photos of Charles Haughey's escape from the treacherous rocks of West Cork's Mizen Head still adorn Bush's Bar in Baltimore.
Yesterday, the tight-knit West Cork fishing community paid tribute to the former Taoiseach as they recalled the famous events of a stormy September evening, when Ireland's most famous politician was rescued from his stricken yacht - and ended up buying drinks for locals in Bush's.
RNLI volunteer, Liam Cotter, was one of those who took part with his brother, Ciaran, in the dramatic September 29 rescue with the local lifeboat crew.
"It was a very lucky escape I suppose," he said. The Mizen has claimed dozens of ships over the years - and the local waters are notoriously dangerous in stormy conditions.
"Mr Haughey was very grateful to everyone who helped out. It was one of the best known of the rescues that we've had over the years," he added.
The drama unfolded as Mr Haughey was returning with some friends on the yacht Taurima from holidays in Dingle and Inishvickillaun in Kerry.
As the yacht rounded Dursey Head and headed for the Mizen, it ran into stormy seas and was gradually pushed towards treacherous rocks, which holed it.
An emergency alert was issued and, within minutes, the Baltimore Lifeboat was put to the rescue.
Everyone was successfully removed from the vessel and landed safely at Baltimore - where the grateful Fianna Fail chief insisted on buying drinks for all those involved in the rescue.
Two weeks later, a letter arrived from Leinster House with a 100 guinea donation from Charles Haughey for the Baltimore RNLI unit - followed by a Christmas hamper a few weeks later.
The owners of Bush's Bar, Richard and Eileen Bush, still have photos of the famous rescue, along with newspaper cuttings filed for posterity.
The incident spawned one of the most famous stories that Mr Haughey liked to tell about himself.
When asked by a garda on duty outside Leinster House the next week about how he managed to escape from the stricken yacht, Mr Haughey said he turned and whispered sotto voce:
"I walked on water."
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