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The volunteer crew of Clifden RNLI were called out on Tuesday (11 July) to assist a vessel with three anglers on board suffering mechanical failure at the mouth of Killary Harbour.

Weather conditions at the time were very poor with heavy rain and limited visibility.

While preparing to launch on a training exercise on their Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat, the Clifden crew were tasked to assist a small angling vessel with mechanical failure at the mouth of Killary Harbour, 22 nautical miles away.

It was reported that the casualty boat had three people on board and was drifting towards the rocks.

The Atlantic 85 was immediately away under the helm of Alan Pryce, with crew Chris Nee, Shane Conneely and Connor O’Malley.

While en route, the lifeboat crew were informed that the casualty vessel had drifted onto the rocks and immediate assistance was required.

Clifden’s Shannon class all-weather lifeboat was also tasked to provide additional cover with John Mullen as coxswain and crew members Joe Acton, Dan Whelan, James Mullen and Brian Ward. They were assisted by John Heffernan and Neil Gallery on the shore. The Shannon-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115 also made its way to the scene.

The inshore lifeboat crew arrived at the location to find the fishing boat on the rocks and the three fishermen had climbed onto the rocky shoreline.

The situation was precarious and the weather conditions were poor. However, the volunteer crew managed to extract the three casualties and put the stricken vessel under tow.

The casualties were cold and wet but in otherwise good form, and they were brought, along with their boat, to Rossroe pier to safety.

Speaking about the call-out, Clifden RNLI helm Alan Pryce said: “I’d like to commend the crew on a well-executed rescue in very tricky conditions. The crew and the lifeboat performed incredibly well and the top cover of R115 and Clifden ALB ensured a swift response and successful outcome.

“The volunteer crew at our station are on call 24/7. If you get into difficulty, or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

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Both Wicklow RNLI lifeboats were launched at teatime on Friday evening (14 July) following reports of a dog in the water south of Wicklow harbour.

The alarm was raised by gardaí in Wicklow who were concerned that the dog owners would instinctively try to rescue their pet and risk injury.

At 6.32pm the inshore lifeboat launched and was followed a short time later by the all-weather lifeboat. Both proceeded south to the foot of cliffs at Wicklow Golf Course.

The inshore lifeboat was on scene four minutes after launching in a position 200m south of Travelahawk beach.

In challenging sea conditions, helm Alan Goucher was able to get the lifeboat ashore and locate the dog.

The inshore lifeboat volunteers made repeated attempts to retrieve the dog, but it retreated into caves on the shoreline each time.

Eventually the dog made its own way back up the cliff where it was retrieved by its anxious owners. With the dog back in safe hands, the lifeboat crews were stood down by the coastguard and returned to station.

The call-out was a milestone for trainee Liz Thomas as she went to sea on her first ‘shout’ as an all-weather lifeboat volunteer.

Speaking after the call-out, Wicklow RNLI press officer Tommy Dover said: “We were happy to help and would remind dog owners to ensure to look after their own personal safety and do not get into danger trying to attempt a rescue themselves.

“Always keep your dog on a lead when you’re close to cliff edges or fast -lowing rivers. Don’t go after your dog if they go into the water. If you are worried about your dog, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

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Helvick Head RNLI came to the aid of a fisherman on Tuesday afternoon (11 July) after they got into difficulty and needed assistance three miles off Mine Head, southwest of Dungarvan in Co Waterford.

At the request of the Irish Coast Guard, the volunteer crew launched their inshore lifeboat into westerly Force 2-3 winds and moderately choppy seas.

The lifeboat — helmed by Alan Kelly and with crew members Catherine Reeves, Jamie Walsh and Críostóir Ó Faoláin onboard — made its way to the scene, arriving at 12.50pm.

The crew assessed the situation and found the male casualty to be safe and well.

File image of Helvick Head RNLI’s inshore lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Helvick HeadFile image of Helvick Head RNLI’s inshore lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Helvick Head

As the 30ft fishing boat had sustained a fouled propeller, it was decided to tow it back to the nearest safe port. A tow line was established, and the lifeboat and fishing boat arrived safely back to Helvick Head pier at 2.25pm.

The fisherman was very appreciative of the service rendered by the Helvick Head RNLI crew and extended his thanks to all involved.

Speaking following the call-out, Kieran Rossiter, Helvick Head RNLI deputy launching authority said: “We would remind anyone planning a trip to sea to always go prepared. Wear a lifejacket and be sure to carry a means of communication. Should you get into trouble or see someone else in difficulty, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

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Newcastle RNLI in Northern Ireland has this week come to the aid of four people in separate call-outs over a 24-hour period.

The volunteers pagers first sounded at 4.10pm on Wednesday (12 July) when Belfast Coastguard requested the crew to go to the aid of two people on a broken down jet ski in Newcastle Bay on the Co Down coast.

The inshore lifeboat, Eliza, helmed by Locky Leneghan for the first time and with crew members Trez Dennison and Ciaran Leneghan onboard, launched immediately and made its way to the scene.

Weather conditions at the time were described as good with a Force 2 northerly wind.

Once on scene, the lifeboat crew assessed the situation and found that both people were safe and well. It was decided take the two onboard the lifeboat where they were checked over and reassured. They were then brought back to Newcastle Harbour with the jet ski under tow.

Then on Thursday (13 July), the crew were once again paged and requested by Belfast Coastguard to launch and go to the aid of two people on a 19ft boat that had encountered engine problems close to Ballyhoran Beach.

The all-weather lifeboat launched under coxswain Gerry McConkey with five crew members onboard and made its way to the scene, reaching the boat at around 5.25pm in a Force 4 southerly wind.

After assessing the situation, the crew decided to take the two onboard where they were checked over and reassured. The lifeboat crew then worked to establish a tow before bringing the boat to the nearest safe port at Ardglass Harbour where it was handed into the care of Portaferry Coastguard.

Speaking following both call-outs, Sean McConkey, Newcastle RNLI launch authority said: “It has been a busy 24 hours for the station but the crew have been delighted to help.

“We want to wish all four well; the jet ski crew did the right thing in having a means of communication and raising the alarm, that is the right thing to do, and the people onboard the boat [on Thursday] were able to make contact with the coastguard immediately when they realised there was a problem, allowing for a prompt launch of the lifeboat.

“We also want to commend our own Locky Leneghan who had his first call-out on Wednesday since becoming a helm. Locky has been on the lifeboat crew for two years and has worked hard in recent months to complete his training and assessments to make this milestone which is a wonderful personal achievement for him and great news for the station.”

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In the first of three separate rescues within a 24-hour period this week, Carrybridge RNLI’s inshore relief lifeboat launched on Monday (10 July) to assess a 27ft vessel with two people on board which had mechanical issues around a mile northeast of Knockninny on Upper Lough Erne in Northern Ireland.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched at the request of Belfast Coastguard at 3.45pm and located the casualty vessel which had broken down and had deployed its anchor to avoid them drifting ashore.

Winds were southwesterly Force 3 with a gentle breeze, and visibility was fair with heavy showers.

The crew assessed the casualties and found them to be safe and well and wearing lifejackets. The lifeboat helm then carried out a risk assessment of the casualty vessel.

Due to the craft having no propulsion, and being anchored in the main navigation channel, it was decided that the safest option would be to set up a stern tow and bring it back to its moorings.

A lifeboat crew member stayed onboard the casualty vessel to assist while it was being towed back and upon arrival it was safety secured its berth.

The following afternoon, the inshore lifeboat launched at 2.11pm following reports of a 30ft vessel with 2 people on board which had got into difficulties in shallow water close to Naan Island.

It was also confirmed by Belfast Coastguard that another vessel, a 27ft boat with two people on board, had also got into difficulties in the same area trying to assist the initial vessel.

Winds on Tuesday afternoon were southwesterly Force 3 with a gentle breeze; visibility was good with partly cloudy skies.

Once on scene, the volunteer crew located two vessels in close proximity, both of which had got into difficulties in shallow water. The first vessel with two people onboard was assessed and it was decided with the owner’s permission to safely refloat and tow it into deeper water. This was carried out successfully.

With the first vessel in safe water and operating under its own power, attention turned to assess and assist the second vessel which was further aground.

The volunteer lifeboat crew had requested for the owner to empty their water tanks to assist with the refloating, and during this process the casualty vessel began to float and drifted out of the shallows and into deeper water.

While safety and operation checks were being carried out with the hep of the lifeboat crew, the owner found that his vessel would no longer start.

The lifeboat helm decided that the safest option was to set up a stern tow, and a lifeboat crew member stayed onboard the casualty vessel while it was towed back to the closest public marina.

Speaking following the call-outs, Chris Cathcart, volunteer helm at Carrybridge RNLI had advice for aal boat users: “Now we are in the summer season, we would urge all boat owners to carry out regular maintenance checks on your vessel, make sure you have the relevant charts required before starting your journey, lifejackets for all on board and a means of calling for assistance if you find yourself in trouble.

“If you see someone in trouble on the water or are in difficulties yourself the number to dial is 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

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Five Kilrush RNLI volunteers have received meritorious awards from the RNLI for their part in a 2020 rescue that saved the lives of three people in storm-force conditions.

Shannon Foynes Port Company were also recognised by the charity for their support to the station during the call-out.

On Monday (10 July), Anna Classon, RNLI Head of Region presented helm Tom Blunnie with a RNLI Chairman’s Letter of Thanks and volunteer lifeboat crew members Ian Lynch, Charlie Glynn and Ger Keane with a Chief Executive’s Commendation.

Fintan Keating, the Kilrush lifeboat launching authority, received a Lifesaving Operations Director’s Letter of Commendation for his role in the service.

And a Operations Director’s Commendation was awarded to Shannon Foynes Port Company for their collaborative and valued support in the rescue.

On 28 June 2020 at 11.25pm, Kilrush Lifeboat station was notified by Valentia Coast Guard that a 7m vessel with three people onboard was in grave danger, seven nautical miles south-west of Kilrush lifeboat station in Co Clare.

Weather conditions were near storm force from the northwest, with squally rain, poor visibility and heavy swell in the Shannon estuary. High water was due just after midnight and the flood tide would contribute to a worsened sea state.

Fintan Keating, alongside deputy launching authorities Shawna Johnson and Paul Coady, considered and accepted the launch request.

Upon launch, further communications confirmed the casualty crew were attempting to move their vessel to the harbour at Carrigaholt. However, they had suffered engine failure and were taking on water, drifting towards shipping lanes.

Kilrush lifeboat helm Tom Blunnie, supported by crew members Ian Lynch, Charlie Glynn and Ger Keane, commenced a search for the casualty.

In challenging sea conditions, the casualty vessel was located with assistance from Shannon Foynes Port Company’s Pilot Station.

On arrival, it was found that the casualty crew were unsuccessfully attempting to bail out water, and they were quickly transferred from their now submerged boat onto the lifeboat

Working swiftly as one crew, a towline was established and a course set for Carrigaholt pier. The vessel was safely towed to the pier and the casualties handed into the care of family members.

The charity found that the prompt actions ensured three lives were saved.

Shawna Johnson, acknowledged the tremendous efforts of the team at Kilrush Lifeboat station: “I am incredibility proud reading the Letters of Commendation received by the volunteers involved in the rescue. Exceptional leadership, determination and commitment, were used to describe the efforts of our crew.

“It was a challenging service and undoubtedly the actions of Kilrush RNLI saved three lives.”

In presenting the awards, Anna Classon added: “It fills me with pride to come to Kilrush and present these awards. The actions of the crew that night, carried out in weather conditions, that were on the operational limits of the station’s Atlantic 85 lifeboat, were incredibly brave.

“Our volunteers live and work in the communities where these rescues happen, putting aside time with families and in jobs, to go out in all weathers. Every lifeboat launch is about trust; in each other, in the equipment used to save lives, in the training given and in our search and rescue partners.”

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The volunteer crew of Aran Islands RNLI were requested to launch their all-weather Severn class lifeboat at 6.05pm on Monday (10 July) to attend a person on Inis Mór who was experiencing a health issue and indeed of further medical attention.

The patient was transferred safely aboard the lifeboat at Kilronan Harbour under the supervision of the volunteer crew. The lifeboat then launched under coxswain Aonghus O hIarnáin and a full crew for the mainland.

Conditions at the time of launching were good, with a Force 3 northerly wind blowing.

It was the second call-out in three days for the Aran Islands volunteers, who were also requested to launch early on Saturday morning (8 July) after a yacht broke its mooring at Kilronan Harbour and had run aground close to a rocky beach.

Shortly after 6.30am on Saturday, the Severn class lifeboat launched under coxswain Aonghus Ó hIarnáin and proceeded towards the yacht in challenging conditions, with a strong Force 8 southerly wind blowing.

Two members of the volunteer crew then launched the Y-boat, the 3m inflatable boat aboard the lifeboat, to allow the crew to get to the yacht in shallow water.

A tow line was established to the 24ft sailing yacht and it was pulled clear of the rocks on the in coming tide before being towed safely to the pier.

The yacht, a 24ft sailing vessel was was then towed safely to the pier.

Speaking after the call-outs, Ó hIarnáin said: “There was a good outcome to the yacht rescue what could have been a tricky situation, with the weather conditions becoming increasingly challenging.

“We also want to wish the patient who took ill yesterday a speedy recovery.”

The crew on Saturday’s call-out with Ó hIarnáin were mechanic Alan O'Flynn and crew members Joe Gill, Daniel O’Connell and Caelan Cullen Quinn. On Monday’s call-out with Ó hIarnáin were mechanic Máirtín Eoin Coyne, Caelan Cullen Quinn, Daniel O’Connell and Máirtín Dé Bhailis.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

RNLI volunteers across the island of Ireland took to the pitch during Sunday’s (9 July) All-Ireland senior hurling championship semi-final at Croke Park, to promote the charity’s water safety partnership with the GAA.

Before the throw-in at the Clare vs Kilkenny decider and in front of thousands gathered at the stadium, RNLI volunteers— dressed in their full lifeboat kit—unfurled a giant flag showing an all-weather lifeboat in action.

A second group of RNLI crew wearing county jerseys unfurled a flag with a water safety message, calling on everyone to Float to Live.

Then at half-time, the crew took to the pitch once again as interviews were done by Ballygunner and Waterford GAA’s Dessie Hutchinson, alongside Lisa Hollingum, RNLI area lifesaving manager.

Six years on, the RNLI and GAA water safety partnership serves to raise awareness of drowning prevention and to educate communities on how to stay safe in and around the water.

The partnership is part of the GAA Healthy Clubs programme and has seen RNLI lifeboat crew visiting GAA clubs around Ireland to deliver water safety talks to all age groups.

RNLI volunteers came together at Croke Park on Sunday 9 July to promote their crucial water safety campaign | Credit: SportsfileRNLI volunteers came together at Croke Park on Sunday 9 July to promote their crucial water safety campaign | Credit: Sportsfile

Speaking about Sunday’s event in Croke Park, Lisa Hollingum said: “Our partnership highlights the shared values between ourselves in the RNLI and the GAA, notably volunteerism and the importance of communities. It was a privilege for our RNLI crew to be invited to Croke Park on such a big day in the GAA’s championship calendar and to have the opportunity to promote a key drowning prevention message, float to live.

“If you find yourself struggling in the water unexpectedly, your instinct will tell you to swim hard. But cold water shock could make you gasp uncontrollably. Then you could breathe in water and drown.

“Instead, we want you to float to live. Tilt your head back with ears submerged, Relax and try to breathe normally. Move your hands to help you stay afloat. It’s OK if your legs sink. Spread your arms and legs to improve stability.”

Commenting on the partnership, Dessie Hutchinson—a native of Dunmore East where the RNLI has a Shannon class lifeboat—said: “Growing up along the coast in Dunmore East, the sea surrounded me, and I have watched over the years as fishermen and visitors use it for both business and leisure.

“It has always been so reassuring for everyone in the community to have a lifeboat station powered by a dedicated team of volunteers who we know in any given moment will drop what they are doing to respond to their pager and go to the aid of someone in need.

“That’s why I am so delighted to see the GAA and RNLI come together in a water safety partnership as our shared values of volunteerism and pride in where we belong can make a real lifesaving difference.”

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In recognition of the long career of RNLI coxswain John O’Donnell and the close relationship with the Aran Islands RNLI, last week the Galway RNLI crew presented a framed picture of the lifeboats from both stations to O’Donnell to mark his retirement.

Mike Swan, Galway RNLI lifeboat operations manager who made the presentation said: “The ties between the Galway and Aran Islands lifeboat stations go right back to the late ’90s when the Galway station was first operational.

“At that time some of the Aran RNLI crew were studying in Galway and living in the city during the week and as it wasn’t always possible for them to get back to Aran for their training exercises, they joined our crew for training.

“I’ve known John since before he joined the RNLI in 2003 and then when he became the coxswain for the Aran Islands lifeboat and I took up the role of lifeboat operations manager for Galway, our roles meant that over the years we were at meetings together with the coastguard and other emergency services, along with events and training at the RNLI bases in Dublin and Poole, England.”

Swan added: “The crews at both lifeboat stations have been on many joint rescues over the years. Although there is an imaginary line from Spiddal in Galway to Black Head in Co Clare that divides the area of Galway Bay that each station is responsible for, in reality — when there is a long rescue that requires all available resources or a search for a missing boat that has no last known location — the boundary becomes irrelevant and we work together as one crew.

“There have been many difficult nights on the water and challenging situations but when we look back on the 21 years that John was involved in the Aran Islands lifeboat, it is the friendships and camaraderie that we will remember.

“I was delighted to present a photo of our two lifeboats to John on behalf of the entire crew in Galway. In the photo you can see the Aran Islands all-weather lifeboat David Kirkaldy out on the bay with the Galway inshore lifeboat, Binny in the foreground.

“We wish John every happiness on his retirement from the RNLI and even though he will be as busy as ever, he won’t have to think about the pager going off at all hours any more.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Larne RNLI were requested to launch on Friday afternoon (7 July) to reports of a kayaker in the water at Portmuck.

Both of Larne’s lifeboats launched after pagers sounded at 5.24pm and made their way towards the casualty’s last reported location at Portmuck on Islandmagee, on Northern Ireland’s East Antrim coast.

The casualty’s kayak was discovered roughly half a mile north of Muck Island but there was no sign of any person nearby.

The all-weather lifeboat, Dr John McSaprron, continued the search for the casualty and found them in the water near to Portmuck Harbour holding onto their kayak’s paddle and being supported with a buoyancy aid.

The casualty was quickly recovered onto the all-weather lifeboat where they were checked to ensure they were not injured or suffering from any effects of being in the cold water.

Apart from feeling cold, the casualty was well and in good spirits.

Meanwhile, the smaller inshore lifeboat, Terry, had been requested to recover the casualty’s kayak from the earlier reported location north of Muck Island.

Once the kayak was recovered, the inshore lifeboat met up with the all-weather lifeboat and the casualty was transferred into the smaller, more manoeuvrable boat so that they could be brought to the shelter of Portmuck Harbour and the care of the local mobile coastguard team.

Speaking after the call-out, Allan Dorman, Larne RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “We’d like to thank the member of the public who called the coastguard when they saw the casualty fall into the water. Without their timely call, this could have had a very different result.

“It’s essential when you plan to go on the water that you have a buoyancy aid or some form of flotation device and it is important to make sure you have a way of contacting the shore should you get into difficulties on the water.

“Remember, if you see anyone in trouble at sea or get into difficulty yourself, contact 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

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Page 13 of 161

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