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RNLI Courtmacsherry Coxswain Mark Gannon on Astrid, Penlee, Fastnet and Free Wills Month

9th May 2024
Mark Gannon, coxswain with RNLI Courtmacsherry
Mark Gannon, coxswain with RNLI Courtmacsherry

RNLI coxswain Mark Gannon with West Cork’s Courtmacsherry lifeboat was on a call out in December 1981 when he and his crew heard over the radio about the Penlee lifeboat disaster - when an entire lifeboat crew was lost off the Cornish coast.

Two years before that, Gannon was at sea with Courtmacsherry during the response to the Fastnet yacht race.

A happier experience was his involvement with the rescue of 30 crew and trainees when the Astrid tall ship went aground off Kinsale in 2013.

Gannon runs the Courtmacsherry Sea Angling Centre and Atlantic Whale Watching and Wildlife Tours.

Although he was the first in the family to volunteer for the lifeboat, he was quickly followed by his two brothers, Adrian and Dara, and his wife Trish.

Gannon is now making a call-out for support for the RNLI’s “Free Wills Month”, where people in Dublin or Cork over 55 years of age can avail of free legal advice to make or update a will.

Although people using the “Free Wills Month” service are not obliged to leave a gift in their will to the RNLI, the charity hopes people will consider doing so to help fund its lifesaving service.

As the RNLI’s Legacy Income Manager, Eifron Hopper says: ‘Six out of every ten RNLI lifeboat launches are only possible due to gifts left in wills. “Free Wills Month” is a great opportunity for people to write or update a will, and help power the RNLI’s lifesaving future.”

Occasionally the charity receives a large gift, but smaller legacies make a big difference too, the RNLI says.

For example, it says that a gift in a will of €694 is enough to equip a beach lifeguard; €908 could pay for a drysuit to protect an inshore lifeboat crew member; while €1,579 will provide the training for a lifeboat crew member for a whole year.

For more information – including details of solicitors in Cork or Dublin participating in “Free Wills Month” – call 01 511 9870 or email [email protected].

For general information about Free Wills Month Ireland, visit

Mark Gannon spoke to Wavelengths about his time with RNLI Courtmacsherry, and how important “Free Wills Month” is, and his interview is below

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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Afloat's Wavelengths Podcast with Lorna Siggins

Weekly dispatches from the Irish coast with journalist Lorna Siggins, talking to people in the maritime sphere. Topics range from marine science and research to renewable energy, fishing, aquaculture, archaeology, history, music and more...