When Baltimore Lifeboat Station in West Cork was established the First World War was raging in Europe. That was back in 1915 when the original station was built, but due to the War no lifeboat arrived in Baltimore until 1919 …. and there was some feeling about her name…. She had been launched as the ‘Duke of Connacht,’ but because of sentiment in the wake of the Easter Rising of 1916, her name was changed to the ‘Shamrock’ before she arrived in Baltimore.
One of my particular maritime memories is being aboard the Baltimore Lifeboat when it used to be launched down the slipway from inside the old station. There was a steel girder across the roof and, if I remember correctly, it had a warning: “Mind Your Head” which flashed over the top of the lifeboat as it rapidly went down the slipway into the water.
This came to mind when I was given a look through the station’s recorded history, in conjunction with the planned celebration of its centenary this September.
There’s a fine, modern lifeboat station in Baltimore now, with both offshore all-weather and inshore boats. I remember being there the morning of Charlie Haughey’s rescue from the sinking of his yacht, ‘Celtic Mist’ at the Mizen in October of 1985.
"Back in 1979, Baltimore was the first lifeboat to launch to the rescue of sailors in the Fastnet Yacht Race disaster"
Back in 1979, Baltimore was the first lifeboat to launch to the rescue of sailors in the Fastnet Yacht Race disaster. That event got more attention than another unusual service the same year when the West Cork crew assisted in transferring an injured man to Bantry Hospital following a mutiny aboard a Greek container ship!
There will be a lot happening on the lifeboat scene this year, with the last operational Tyne Class all-weather lifeboat on service in Ireland leaving over the next few months from service in Wicklow and new Shannon Class boats going there and Clogherhead.
And in Cork Harbour, Crosshaven lifeboat station is looking for crew for its inshore boat. Like many village communities, they have a large number of crew working outside the village during the day and, therefore, not available for emergencies, which is putting a strain on their ability to respond in working hours. So they are looking for people over 17 who are at home in the village during the day.
Listen to the podcast where Niamh Stephenson of the RNLI describes the changes and when the new Clogherhead boat will be arriving…..