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Displaying items by tag: Arranmore

Bundoran RNLI in Co Donegal were requested to launch on Tuesday evening (8 June) to reports of two paddle boarders being blown out to sea off Mermaid’s Cove in north Co Sligo.

The emergency call was made just after 6pm to Malin Head Coast Guard who immediately paged the Bundoran lifeboat volunteers. Within minutes the inshore lifeboat William Henry Liddington set off with four crew on board.

The Sligo-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 118 was also tasked to the scene, where the lifeboat crew assisted the two paddle boarders back to shore and assessed their wellbeing.

Lifeboat helm Brian Gillespie said later: “We were glad to be able to bring the paddle boarders back to safety and the person on the shore called 999 when they did.

“We would always remind people that if they see anyone in trouble on the coast to call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard, and for paddle boarders to be mindful of offshore winds which can catch people out very easily.”

Elsewhere in Donegal, Arranmore RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat was called on Sunday afternoon (6 June) to assist a RIB which got into difficulty on rocks off Kincasslagh.

Arranmore RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/ArranmoreArranmore RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Arranmore

When the lifeboat arrived on scene, the Bunbeg Coast Guard boat had secured the casualty boat and brought it to safety.

Arranmore volunteer’s busy weekend also saw a callout on Saturday (5 June) for a medevac from the island. The patient was transferred to a waiting ambulance at Burtonport.

Frankie Bonner, second coxswain, said: “We are a 24-hour on-call service and prepared at a minute’s notice to answer any call for assistance.

“Our callouts are many and varied, from providing medical assistance in transferring patients from the island to assisting boats and people in trouble within a 50-mile radius of our base in Arranmore.”

Frankie is the son of Francis Bonner, who served as coxswain on the lifeboat for many years along with his three sons Frankie, Seamus and Michael, who are part of the volunteer crew at Arranmore RNLI.

There is still a strong family tradition of voluntary service at Arranmore RNLI since the first lifeboat came to the island in 1883.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Since Sir William Hillary founded the RNLI in 1824, women have had a role in the service — initially working in the background by helping to launch and recover the lifeboats, fundraising for the voluntary service and supporting their husbands and sons when the lifeboat went to the rescue.

Today, women are taking their place at the forefront of the RNLI, serving as crew members, leading fundraising campaigns and of course still supporting their family who crew the lifeboats.

Arranmore RNLI off mainland Donegal was founded in 1883 and although it was only men with a knowledge of the sea who crewed the lifeboats, without the support of their female family members they would have had difficultly manning the vessels while looking after young families.

The women of Arranmore were always very resilient, from dealing with the hardships and tragedies of island living in their every day lives, to playing a vital role in supporting the lifeboat families when the crew were responding to a difficult rescue in horrendous weather conditions.

An example of the type of rescues the Arranmore RNLI were involved in was in December 1940, when they rescued 16 crew members of The Stolwyjk in the most challenging weather conditions. The crew were awarded gold, silver and bronze medals for the very memorable rescue.

Today, as in every lifeboat station throughout Ireland and the UK, Arranmore RNLI is proud to have women crew members. Lifeboat press officer Nora Flanagan was the first woman to join the Arranmore RNLI crew, and four more women have since joined the crew in this vital lifesaving service.

Nora Flanagan was the first woman to join Arranmore RNLI’s crew (Photo: RNLI/Arranmore)Nora Flanagan was the first woman to join Arranmore RNLI’s crew | Photo: RNLI/Arranmore

These women are Karen McGowan, a registered advanced nurse practitioner in Beaumont Hospital and president of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO); round-the-world sailor Sharon O’Donnell; Erin McCafferty, a student at NUI Galway; and primary school teacher Aisling Cox.

Karen McGowan joined the Arranmore RNLI crew at age 17 and continued to serve throughout her nursing training. Speaking to Karen about why she joined the RNLI, she said: “I enjoyed the adrenaline rush and I knew I wanted to train as a nurse; as a crew member on the lifeboat I gained a huge amount of experience with the excellent training the RNLI provides. Dealing with medical emergencies on a callout served me well in my student nurse training.

“I had quite a few memorable rescues during my time as a crew member but the most poignant was rescuing the crew of a sinking trawler. As soon as the crew were brought on board the Lifeboat the trawler sank very quickly. It was very hard to watch somebody’s livelihood sink beneath the waves and witness the raw emotion on the faces of both the lifeboat and the trawler crews.

“I would encourage anybody to join their local RNLI, it really helps you think outside the box and the crews are very supportive and helpful to new recruits”.

All crew members are required to serve a probationary period where they learn all the skills involved in saving lives. Learning is competence-based and crew members must prove their competency in one skill before taking on another. This training enables all volunteers, many of whom have little or no knowledge of boats or the sea, to become first-class lifesavers.

The first RNLI women’s award was to honour Grace Darling, a lighthouse-keeper’s daughter who helped rescue nine people in 1838.

Aisling Cox with her dad and fellow crew member Kieran (Photo: RNLI/Arranmore)Aisling Cox with her dad and fellow crew member Kieran | Photo: RNLI/Arranmore

Voluntary fundraising committees are an essential part of the RNLI and women are very much to the fore in raising funds to keep the lifeboats afloat.

As the charity celebrates International Women’s Day, it salutes the selflessness and dedication of the many women of the RNLI involved in saving lives at sea.

Grace Gallagher has been a member of the Arranmore fundraising committee for over 25 years. She has been honoured and recognised by the RNLI as the longest-serving member of the fundraising committee and has raised thousands of euro for the RNLI.

Grace said: “I can’t believe I’ve been fundraising for the RNLI for over 25 years. Living by the sea and with many of our families involved in the fishing industry, we rely on the lifeboat and the contribution of the public to continue with this essential voluntary service. It has been a pleasure to be part of it.”

Other remarkable women connected with Arranmore RNLI include Sadie Bonner, a former postal worker who started supporting the RNLI by collecting fundraising buckets from shops and selling badges, and who is now treasurer of the fundraising committee; and Arranmore RNLI station president Majella O’Donnell.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Arranmore RNLI volunteer Nora Flanagan has been recognised for 25 years of service to the charity that saves lives at sea.

The retired nurse, who serves as the Donegal island station’s press officer, first got involved with the RNLI in 1995 when she became the first female crew member to join Arranmore’s all-weather lifeboat crew.

“I remember my first call out well,” Nora recalls. :We were involved in an all-night search for a fisherman who fell overboard a trawler and I remembering finding that challenging.

“The next day my pager went off again, this time for a medical evacuation. I was more confident on this callout when I was helping the injured person. It was then I realised and understood that there is a role for everybody who wants to join a lifeboat crew.”

Nora also got involved with the local fundraising team and later became the station’s volunteer lifeboat press officer, a role she still holds.

“This involves writing news releases and doing local radio interviews after callouts and keeping in touch with the local media about any activity that is going on at the station such as safety awareness and education, fundraising and events.”

One of the highlights over the years was a visit to the RNLI College in Poole, where Nora was asked to represent the RNLI in Ireland for the launch of Volunteer Spirit, a lifeboat which was funded by selling badges.

“That was a huge honour for me personally, but overall, I have had an exceptional 25 years with the RNLI and I love being part of an organisation that is one big family.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Nora could not be presented with her medal in person but said she was delighted to receive the recognition from the RNLI, which came with a warm word of thanks from the charity for having achieved over 20 years of extraordinary service.

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Two people were rescued by Arranmore RNLI’s volunteer crew in Co Donegal after reports of a RIB in difficulty over the weekend.

The all-weather lifeboat launched on Saturday (1 August) and headed south to the scene in the Portnoo area, where they found one person in the RIB and recovered another from the water before giving casualty care.

A tow was established to bring the RIB to Portnoo where an ambulance was waiting to take the casualty to hospital for further treatment.

This was the first callout for the Arranmore lifeboat crew since March, when coronavirus restrictions were imposed.

Lifeboat coxswain Jimmy Early said: “As there is now an increase in visitors to the Wild Atlantic Way, we would remind people to be fully aware of the RNLI’s water safety messages.”

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Arranmore RNLI has paid tribute to lifeboat volunteer Lee Early, who died on Sunday (17 November) after an incident at a pier on the Co Donegal island.

TheJournal.ie reports that Early (26) and another man, who survived the incident, were in a car that slipped off the pier into the sea around 5.10am.

It’s believed they had been trying to turn the car on the pier when the accident occurred.

Early’s remains were escorted back to Arranmore yesterday evening (Monday 18 November) ahead of his funeral scheduled for noon tomorrow at St Crone’s Church.

“He was a proud Lifeboatman, a skilled Skipper and a much loved friend to us all, he will be greatly missed by the whole community,” the lifeboat team said in a statement on Facebook.

“The Arranmore Community & diaspora, along with the RNLI and wider SAR community will stand with the Early family at this difficult time. Ar dhéis Dé go mbeidh a anam dilís.”

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The community of Arranmore is appealing to people around the world to consider bolstering their numbers on the island off Co Donegal.

The Gaeltacht island, northwest of Dungloe, recently became Ireland’s first offshore digital hub thanks to Three Ireland’s mobile broadband project.

And it’s hoping to use the benefits of that connectivity for remote working to attract people — and especially families — from as far afield as the United States and Australia to relocate there, as Lonely Planet reports.

Published in Island News
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#RNLI - Arranmore  RNLI in Co Donegal assisted a fisherman who got into difficulty off Gola Island at the weekend when his small boat ran aground on rocks.

The all-weather lifeboat was called out at 11am on Sunday 18 March and proceeded to Gola Island to assist the casualty.

On arrival at the scene, the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 118 from Sligo and the Bunbeg Coast Guard boat had lifted the fisherman from the boat.

The casualty was subsequently transferred to the lifeboat, where he was treated for mild hypothermia.

The lifeboat stayed at the scene until the tide turned before the volunteer crew then secured a tow rope to the boat and transferred both the fisherman, who was fully recovered, and the boat to Bunbeg Harbour.

Speaking following the callout, Arranmore RNLI coxswain Jimmy Early said: “Although it was quite windy, the sea was calm but the wind chill factor was approximately 1-2 degrees centigrade which accounted for the hypothermia.

“Once we treated the fisherman, he made a full recovery and was thankful to all the rescue services for their help.”

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#RNLI - Arranmore RNLI has just announced some new recruits to the lifeboat station, including an honorary president and three volunteer lifeboat crew.

Majella O’Donnell has been appointed station president. Majella met with the lifeboat crew last Tuesday 20 February at the station, where she was warmly welcomed with tea and biscuits.

Majella’s interest in seafaring began when her family, from Thurles in Co Tipperary, went to Spiddal, Co Galway on their annual holidays. Her father and mother Tom and Marion Roche, both keen sailors, often brought the family on board their boat and sailed the entire west coast of Ireland.

Majella has a house on Owey Island, often piloting her own boat when visiting the island, and says she has always been aware of the role of the lifeboats in saving lives at sea. She is also married to famous singer and Donegal native Daniel O’Donnell.

On meeting the crew and Arranmore RNLI press officer Nora Flanagan, Majella said how pleased she is to be part of this vital service.

“I’ve always had a huge passion for water safety and have been a great admirer of the work of the RNLI,” she said. “I want to lend my support to the work the Arranmore Lifeboat crew do, not just as a figurehead of the station but to be actively involved and in the forefront of all aspects of the station to help the crew continue their role of saving lives at sea.

“I may not be a crew member of the lifeboat going out to sea but I think I can see my role as an asset, not only in fundraising, but listening to the needs of the crew, highlighting the importance of this vital service to all those who use the sea for business or pleasure and spreading the message of safety on the sea.”

Coxswain Jimmy Early with station president Majella O'DonnellCoxswain Jimmy Early with station president Majella O'Donnell

The station has also signed up three new crew members: a Polish native, a round-the-world sailor and a young Leaving Cert student.

Before he arrived in Arranmore last August, Krakow man Sebastian Sebo had no awareness of the work of the lifeboats, even though he had been in Ireland since 2006 working as a promoter at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin.

Sebastian happened upon Arranmore when cycling the Wild Atlantic Way. Seven months later, having fallen in love with the island, its people and the pace of life, and discovering the role of the lifeboat, he not only decided to stay but applied to join the crew.

Sebastian is currently undergoing his apprenticeship with the Arranmore Lifeboat and said: “Even though I had no previous experience of boats, I’m really enjoying being part of the crew and learning the ropes, all the crew are very supportive and take time and patience teaching me the various skills involved. I love living on Arranmore and especially being part of the RNLI.”

Experienced sailor and mother of four boys Sharon O’Donnell felt privileged to be asked to join the lifeboat crew seven months ago.

Sharon’s experience with boats started at a young age when she fished with her father on his trawler and continued when she joined the crew of the yacht Derry~Londonderry~Doire in the 2015-16 Clipper Race.

Sharon joined the crew of the yacht in China, sailed the Pacific to America and back to Derry via the Netherlands and London, a journey which lasted four months.

Lifeboat coxswain Jimmy Early said: “I was aware of Sharon’s involvement in the Clipper Race and greatly admired her abilities as a very competent sailor, and knew she would be an asset to the Lifeboat. Having said that, you don’t have to have any experience to serve on the lifeboat as full training is given.”

Sharon said her training on the yacht was slightly different to her experience with Arranmore RNLI.

“All of the crew had to undergo training to sail on the yacht, but the lifeboat serves a different purpose and this is reflected in the training,” she said. “All crew members of the lifeboat serve an apprenticeship and have to undergo competence based training, we are trained in various skills to help each crew member save lives and have to prove our competence in each skill prior to continuing with the next one.

“I’m really enjoying working with the lifeboat and learning new, challenging skills.”

At 18 years of age, Erin McCafferty is the youngest crew of the Arranmore lifeboat, and is currently studying for her Leaving Cert at Gairmscoil Mhic Diarmada on the island,

Erin became a crew member six months ago and is halfway through her apprenticeship. She also follows the Arranmore tradition of families serving on the lifeboat: Erin’s father John has been a crew member for 10 years, and her great-grandfather was a volunteer in the 1920s.

Erin hopes to study marine science at NUI Galway and said that her time spent on the lifeboat has convinced her that this is the direction she wants to take. She is particularly concerned about the amount of plastic pollution in all the oceans that is having an adverse affect on marine life.

Erin’s father John said: “I would encourage all young people to join the lifeboat crew if there is a station in their area, not only do they become part of an important service but it encourages them to be independent, problem solve and it is an experience they will be proud of no matter which direction their lives take.”

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#RNLI - Arranmore RNLI in Co Donegal was called out yesterday morning (Monday 6 November) at 11.45am to assist a 19ft fishing boat with two people onboard.

The small boat was approximately 400 metres from Arranmore Lifeboat Station when it developed engine failure.

On arrival at the stricken vessel, the lifeboat crew established a tow rope and towed the boat safely to anchor off Arranmore.

“This was probably one of the shortest calls we’ve had for several years,” said lifeboat coxswain Jimmy Early. “We were called out at 11.45am and we were back at anchor at 12.18pm.

“Whether it’s a long or short call out we are always ready to answer the call and we were delighted to help bring the boat and it’s crew to safety.”

In a separate incident on Friday (3 November), the lifeboat crew were attending a presentation in the Waterfront Hotel in Dungloe when they were alerted by a local man to a disturbance in the sea off Arranmore.

The man reported a white shape and a flock of sea birds in the sea and the lifeboat crew were asked to investigate.

On arrival, the crew discovered a dead whale which subsequently washed up at Béal a’ Chraois, a sheltered cove on the east of the island, where it remained as of yesterday.

The Waterfront Hotel had hosted a fundraising dinner dance in September in support of the Arranmore RNLI Lifeboat – raising €25,250 – and were in the process of presenting the crew with the cheque when they were interrupted by the callout.

Early added: “We would like to thank the Waterfront Hotel for their incredible generosity and congratulate them on their upgrade to four star status.

“This event goes to prove that we, the lifeboat crew are on call 24/7 and no matter what the occasion we are here to answer the call, that is our priority.”

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#RNLI - Arranmore RNLI was called to give assistance to a crabbing boat which got into difficulty off Arranmore on Tuesday (19 September).

The all-weather lifeboat was alerted at 4pm when the 60-tonne, 15m vessel with four crew on board suffered engine failure 35 miles northwest of Arranmore off the Donegal coast.

Weather conditions at the time were moderate with south, south east winds, Force 6-7 and a 3-4m swell.

When the lifeboat reached the crabbing boat, the crew secured a tow rope and the fishing vessel was towed to the safety of Burtonport harbour.

Arranmore RNLI coxswain Jimmy Early said: “This was a textbook rescue with favourable weather conditions and experienced fishermen who knew exactly what action to take in an emergency, they did all the right things to effect their rescue.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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