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Displaying items by tag: RNLI

A dad’s passion for the old Clifden RNLI lifeboat he served on has passed to the next generation as his son has purchased the first lifeboat his father helmed in 1996.

James Mullen, a coxswain at Clifden RNLI in Co Galway with over 27 years voluntary service saving lives at sea on the West Coast of Ireland, is also a proud dad to four boys who have inherited their father’s remarkable passion for the sea, the RNLI and everything to do with boats.

It’s this passion which inspired James’ 14-year-old son Ronan to track down and buy the C-class 522 inshore lifeboat which was stationed in Clifden between 1989 and 1997.

The boat holds so many memories for James as a teenage RNLI recruit and when his sons would ask him for the history of the station and his favourite lifeboat, the stories he told them always came back to the C-class.

Remembering his early crew years, James said: “I loved the sea, I had lived beside it my whole life and [then] finally, at 17 years old and with my parent’s consent, I was lifeboat crew.

“We had many call outs on the C-class and she was an amazing boat; she was hard on the back but she never failed to bring us home. This craft was the finest money could buy and I was so impressed with her.

“I remember a call one winter’s night in 1995, we were going to rescue a boat that had gotten into difficulty at sea. The weather was terrible with Force 7-8 westerly winds. It was up to us and our trusty C-class inshore lifeboat to get everyone home safe.

“As the seas got rougher, the C-class dug in deeper and when we were all safely back at shore I remember thinking what an incredible boat she was to stand up against those huge waves.”

Clifden lifeboat crew at the old D-class station in 1995, when James was 18 years old | Credit: RNLI/ClifdenClifden lifeboat crew at the old D-class station in 1995, when James was 18 years old | Credit: RNLI/Clifden

James’ beloved C-class was retired from service and left Clifden in 1997 but not much was known about her fate after that. So young Ronan, inspired by his father’s stories, embarked on an internet search to track her down.

Through various searches and online forums, Ronan established that the lifeboat went from Clifden to Ballyglas RNLI in Co Mayo for a short period, from there to the RNLI Museum in Poole and eventually to a private owner in the UK. Ronan located and struck up a friendship with the owner, who happened to be a fellow RNLI crew member based in Weston-Super-Mare.

Eventually, a deal was done, Ronan purchased his father’s favourite old lifeboat and the family brought her back to Clifden to the delight of the whole Mullen clan, Clifden RNLI crew and the many locals who remember her dutiful service.

Ronan describes the moment he found a photo of the lifeboat online: “I was so shocked, I had been looking online for ages and when I finally came across a photo of the C-class I said to Dad, is that her? And he said, it definitely is. After that I knew we had to have that boat. I love the boat, I love being out on the water and the minute I am old enough I will be joining the RNLI.”

James added: “Our station has grown a lot over the years thanks to the dedication of our volunteer crew, we now use an Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat, a Shannon class all-weather lifeboat and are awaiting delivery of a very special boat next spring.

“Our new Shannon class ALB is being built at the moment and when she comes to Clifden she will carry the names of 10,000 loved ones from the launch a memory campaign.

“It’s a wonderful thing to see the next generation of lifeboat enthusiasts coming up, when I look at my four boys now I think, was I like they are now 27 years ago? Their whole life ahead of them and a future filled with love for the sea and the RNLI.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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At their recent ‘Family Day’ on Sunday 3 October, Lough Derg RNLI volunteers took the opportunity to acknowledge the years of dedication of former helm Peter Clarke and lifeboat operations manager Liam Maloney.

The COVID guidelines-compliant luncheon at Larkins Restaurant in Garrykennedy was hosted to thank the lifeboat crew’s families for their unflagging support and understanding of the demands involved in being a lifeboat volunteer.

The team invited former helm Peter Clarke and his family to join the party. After the lunch, and on behalf of all the volunteers, helms Owen Cavanagh and Eleanor Hooker presented Peter with an Kimmeridge RNLI Special Edition watch, in appreciation of his 14 years’ service as helm.

Crew member Chris Parker also presented Peter with a framed Certificate of Service on behalf of the RNLI.

Peter is a busy dairy farmer with a young family. Eleanor spoke of Peter’s dedication, good humour and positive attitude especially on some of the most challenging shouts on Lough Derg. She said the station would love to see him return to the crew when he has more time.

Owen and Eleanor also presented Liam Maloney with a Kimmeridge RNLI Special Edition watch and a Lough Derg RNLI Helly Hansen jacket as a thank-you for the six years he served as the station’s lifeboat operations manager and 19 years volunteering for the RNLI.

A former headmaster at Carrig Primary School, Liam is also a skilled boat builder and one of the most formidable competitive dinghy sailors at Lough Derg Yacht Club.

Liam has been a volunteer with Lough Derg RNLI since preparations for the station began in 2002-03, when he made the assembly hall at his school available for meetings and classroom training for crew.

He says that as he was outside the age to volunteer as crew, he became a deputy launching authority when the station went live for service in 2004.

Christine O’Malley, who took over as lifeboat operations manager on 8 January this year, praised Liam for his hard work in maintaining a high standard of operations at the station, and for his success in involving the local community in the crew and operations team. Liam remains with the station as a deputy launching authority.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Athlone resident Denis Bergin embarks on what is more than two marathons this weekend with a 90km run around Lough Ree to raise funds for the RNLI boathouse which is nearing completion at Coosan Point, Athlone, Co. Westmeath.

The Tullamore native, an avid water enthusiast and long time supporter of the charity said: “I was hoping to run in the Dublin City Marathon to support the new lifeboat station but when that got cancelled I had to think of a different challenge for the same weekend. As the lifeboat covers every corner of the lake, running around it seemed a good alternative.”

Denis intends to complete the two marathon distances this holiday weekend. He starts from the Lough Ree RNLI boathouse at Coosan Point on Saturday morning (24 October) at 9 am. His route will take him through Ballykeeran, Glasson and onwards through the parishes of Tang, Ballymahon, Kenagh and Newtowncashel as he hugs the lakeshore on his way to the bridge at Lanesboro, Co. Longford. On the return marathon he will run down the west side of Lough Ree from Ballyleague towards Roscommon town and then swings south through Kilteevan, Knockcroghery, Lecarrow, Ballybay and Hodson Bay back to finish in Coosan on Sunday afternoon.

With three marathons under his belt the Ericsson employee has been a familiar figure on his various training routes which have centred on the Old Rail Trail greenway.

Lough Ree RNLI Treasurer Vincent Rafter welcomed the initiative and said: “great progress has been made on raising the €100,000 community contribution for the €1.2m boathouse and the generosity and endurance of people like Denis are an inspiration to all those who support and rely on the charity.”

This year Lough Ree RNLI volunteer crew has assisted more than 150 people in 42 call-outs on the lake.

The new boathouse will provide an important and necessary base for the charity.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Both Dun Laoghaire lifeboats were paged by the Irish Coast Guard after an open-water swimmer was reported missing yesterday (Saturday 16 October).

The swimmer was part of an organised swimming group who quickly realised that one of their number was no longer with them.

Within 23 minutes of the pager alert, the Dublin Bay station’s inshore lifeboat — helmed by Gary Hayes — located the missing swimmer and pulled them aboard the lifeboat. Other than their being very cold, all was well.

The lifeboat unit noted that all the swimmers were well equipped with bright hats and floats which made searching for the missing swimmer far easier.

Ed Totterdell, Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s lifeboat operations manager, said: “It was great to see that the swimming group were wearing hi-viz swimming hats, swim floats and kept a close eye on each other. Being this prepared enabled them to raise the alarm as soon as they realised one of the group was missing.

“Remember, when swimming, make sure someone knows where you are, wear appropriate clothing for the weather, take a means of calling for help in a dry pouch and always swim within your abilities.”

The RNLI has guidance for open-water swimming on its website.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Lifeboat crew at Rosslare Harbour RNLI, who carried out a rescue on 16 October 2017 during ‘Storm Ophelia’ that saw three lives saved in hurricane conditions, will receive an award from the RNLI for the service. The Coxswain Eamonn O’Rourke will receive the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum and the lifeboat crew involved will each receive Vellum Service Certificates.

The rescue took place in conditions described by the lifeboat crew involved as some of the worst they had ever witnessed as they battled 10-metre seas in force 12 conditions. In announcing this award, the RNLI recognised the Coxswain for his boat handling and exemplary leadership in hurricane-force weather conditions and the lifeboat crew involved for their teamwork, courage and collective efforts in the rescue of the crew and the yacht.

The award was decided at a recent RNLI Trustees meeting and is the second recognition for Rosslare Harbour RNLI, following the Gallantry Award for the rescue of the Lily B off Hook Head, which saw nine lives saved and averted an environmental disaster when the 4,000-tonne cargo vessel was prevented from getting dashed on the rocks.

The full lifeboat crew for the callout were, Coxswain Eamonn O’Rourke, Mechanic Michael Nicholas and lifeboat crew, Art Sheil, Micheal Ferguson, Keith Morris, Padraig Quirke, Stephen Breen and Richard Parish.

As Afloat reported at the time, at 10 am on 16 October 2017 a ‘Mayday’ was received by the Irish Coast Guard from the skipper of Second Love, a 10-metre Dehler yacht, in serious trouble en route from the UK to Malahide. With conditions deteriorating rapidly the crew were struggling to keep control of the yacht. They had planned to berth in Rosslare but decided to head to Arklow in a bid to outrun the weather. Rosslare Harbour RNLI lifeboat was launched, and the rescue lasted four hours in severe weather and sea conditions.

In what proved a vital course of action on the day, a decision was made to pass a drogue (a device trailed behind a vessel to slow it down in rough conditions) to the casualty yacht and then establish a tow to bring the vessel to safety. These actions took place in 10-metre seas and required great skill and patience from all involved.

Commenting on the Vellum recognition, Rosslare Harbour RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager David Maloney said ‘While no lifeboat crew does any rescue for reward this is a great honour for our station. The conditions that day were terrible but when a Mayday is being broadcast, the lifeboat crew go.’

‘The rescue was a challenging one where skill, good seamanship and patience were needed. We are fortunate to have incredibly dedicated and skilled lifeboat crew in Rosslare where each volunteer would have been ready and willing to go to sea. When the pagers went off for this shout, we had eighteen of our lifeboat crew respond. Without their excellent work, the outcome of this service would have been very different.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Portrush RNLI has had a busy Sunday launching to separate reports of kayakers and paddle boarders in difficulty yesterday (10 October).

In the first callout, the all-weather lifeboat crew were paged just after 10am to reports of kayakers in difficulty at Portballintrae, on Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast.

However, the kayakers were able to make their way back to harbour and the lifeboat returned to station.

In the afternoon, the lifeboat was requested to launch at 3.24pm to reports of stand-up paddle boarders in difficulty off Ballintoy. Visibility was good with partial cloud but sea conditions were choppy.

The volunteer crew launched at 3.40pm and arrived on scene at 4.08pm along with both Red Bay RNLI lifeboats. By the time all lifeboats arrived on scene, the paddle boarders had been able to get onto Sheep Island.

Sea and weather conditions prevented the Portrush crew from launching the Y boat to assist the stranded paddle boarders.

By this time an SAR helicopter from HM Coastguard was on the way and both Portrush and Red Bay RNLI were asked to stand by until the casualties were recovered successfully off the island and handed over to coastguard shore crew.

Beni McAllister, Portrush lifeboat operations manager, said: “This was a busy day for our volunteer crew and our flank station Red Bay RNLI, and we commend members of the public who alerted the emergency services very quickly as these two incidences could have had very different outcomes.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The volunteer lifeboat crew of Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI will be taking to the small screen on Tuesday, 19 October as they feature in the ninth episode of the BBC TV series Saving Lives at Sea.

Real life rescue footage gives a frontline view of how the charity’s lifesavers risk their own lives as they go to the aid of those in danger at sea and strive to save every one.

Now in its sixth series, the 10-part documentary showcases the lifesaving work of the RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews from around Ireland and the UK. The series is on BBC Two on Tuesdays at 8 pm as well as being available on BBC iPlayer following broadcast.

Real rescue footage is accompanied by emotive interviews from the volunteer lifeboat crews alongside the people they rescue and their families.

This forthcoming episode, on Tuesday 19 October, sees Dun Laoghaire RNLI respond to a paddle boarder in difficulty in the water about 150m from shore at Blackrock in County Dublin (as Afloat reported here). Weather conditions at the time are quite rough with a squall causing strong offshore wind gusts along with a changing outward tide and choppy waters. The lifeboat crew find the casualty exhausted having tried to paddle and swim back to shore. He is showing signs of hypothermia due to spending a long period in the cold sea.

Alan Keville, one of the Dun Laoghaire RNLI lifeboat crew members featured in the forthcoming episode, said: ‘It's great that we can showcase the lifesaving work of RNLI volunteers in a TV programme like this. Without the generous support and donations from the public, we wouldn’t be able to save lives at sea and it’s great to be able to share what we do with our supporters from the comfort of their own home.’

During 2020, RNLI lifeboats in Ireland launched 945 times with their volunteer crews coming to the aid of 1,147 people, 13 of whom were lives saved.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Bundoran RNLI was involved in the rescue of a woman who got into difficulty off the Main Beach in Bundoran early yesterday morning (Sunday 10 October).

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat by Malin Head Coast Guard shortly after 8 am following a report that a swimmer was missing off the Main Beach. The alarm was raised by a member of the public.

Weather conditions were poor at the time with fresh winds and rough seas.

The lifeboat helmed by Richard Gillespie and with three crew members onboard, launched immediately and made its way to the scene where on arrival they observed that the casualty had managed to make her way back to shore but was exhausted from doing so. Prior to the lifeboat arriving, a member of the public who spotted the casualty in difficulty, grabbed a life ring and went into the water knee deep to meet the casualty and help her.

Two lifeboat crew members went ashore and began to administer casualty care while Bundoran RNLI’s shore crew and members of the public also assisted.

The Irish Coast helicopter, Rescue 118 from Sligo, was also tasked and when it arrived, the woman was subsequently transferred and airlifted to Sligo University Hospital as a precautionary measure.

Bundoran RNLI volunteer Killian O’Kelly is reminding anyone planning on entering the water at this time of the year to take extra precautions to keep themselves safe: ‘This was the second call out for Bundoran RNLI in just over a week to swimmers who got caught in rip currents and thankfully in both cases, everyone is safe and well. However, we want to remind anyone planning a trip to a beach or entering the water, that weather conditions have changed now that summer is over. There is more sea swell and more wind so the risks as a result can increase. Seasonal lifeguards that would have been patrolling the beach during the summer, are not there during the autumn and winter months so it is important to be extra cautious. If you are going swimming, check the weather forecast and tide times in advance and try not to go alone. Always consider using a tow float and wear a bright coloured cap to increase your visibility.

‘Avoid areas where you see breaking waves unless you have the experience or knowledge of the beach you are on. Rip currents can be difficult to spot and are notoriously dangerous. Even the most experienced beachgoers and swimmers can be caught out by rips and our advice if you do get caught in a rip, is don’t try to swim against it or you will get exhausted. If you can stand, wade and don’t swim. If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore. Always raise your hand and shout for help. If you see someone who you think might be in trouble, don't delay, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Baltimore RNLI were called out to provide a medical evacuation this afternoon (Sunday 10 October) from Cape Clear Island off the coast of West Cork.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 2.39 pm, following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to provide a medical evacuation for a woman living on the island.

The Baltimore all-weather lifeboat crew arrived at North Harbour in Cape Clear Island at 2.58 pm The casualty was transferred onboard the lifeboat and they departed the Island at 3.14 pm. The lifeboat returned to the station in Baltimore, arriving at 3.37pm and the casualty was handed over to the care of the HSE Ambulance crew at 3.43 pm.

There were five volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat, Coxswain Jerry Smith, Mechanic Sean McCarthy and crew members Colin Whooley, Don O'Donovan and Jim Baker. Conditions at sea during the call out were calm with a westerly force 3 wind, no sea swell and excellent visibility.

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The volunteer crew at Portaferry RNLI launched at the request of a stand-up paddle boarder in difficulty on Guns Island in Co Down yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 5 October).

Launching at 3.14pm in sunny weather with good visibility and a Force 5 northwesterly wind, the inshore lifeboat arrived on scene 10 minutes later and a crew member was placed on the island to assess the casualty.

The paddle boarder was beginning to suffer from mild hypothermia after having been in the water for some time prior to the lifeboat’s arrival. They were placed onboard the lifeboat and taken ashore at Ballyhornan Bay, where they were transferred to the care of Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team.

Commenting on the callout, Portaferry RNLI helm Fergal Glynn said: ‘“he casualty was wearing appropriate clothing and had made the right decision to make himself safe on the island once they had got into difficulty.

“We would urge anyone planning to spend time on the water to be careful of the conditions and particularly the wind direction, as offshore winds can prove difficult to fight against.”

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