RNLI Lifeboat crews on the hallowed turf of Croke Park, unfurling huge flags with a message about water safety in front of 67,000 passionate football supporters seems an unlikely activity, but it was achieved just before the teams they were supporting did battle in the All-Ireland semi-final between Mayo and Kerry yesterday.
I am a dedicated supporter of the RNLI and believer in the importance of getting the message of water safety across to the public. Those involved in the marine sphere hear and see the message regularly, but getting it out to the general public is more difficult.
Though indeed, from the number of emergency calls for help necessitating the launching of lifeboats in recent weeks to yachts and other leisure craft, reinforcing that message will be of benefit.
The GAA has been of great assistance to the RNLI in getting the message – Respect the Water - out through its clubs all over the country, in a partnership with the lifeboat service. At the All-Ireland semi-final the opportunity to do so, in front of the huge crowd and big media presence, including television, the GAA provided a marvellous opportunity to convey the message in the widest fashion to the public. I asked Niamh Stephenson, Public Affairs Manager of the RNLI, to describe what happened. Her report will be broadcast this week on my radio programme, THIS ISLAND NATION.
In advance, for Afloat.ie readers, this is how she describes what happened: