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Displaying items by tag: RNLI

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

Lough Ree RNLI begins 2021 with the appointment of Jude Kilmartin as the station’s new volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager. He succeeds Tony McCarth who held the post since 2017.

During his tenure, Tony McCarth led the volunteer crew of one of the country’s busiest lifeboat stations, welcoming the delivery of a new inshore lifeboat, the Tara Scougall, and most significantly overseeing the start of construction of a new €1.2m lifeboat station at Coosan Point in Athlone which is nearing completion.

Jude Kilmartin is not a stranger to the station, having served in the role of Deputy Launching Authority prior to his new position.

Taking over at the helm, Jude is looking forward to building on the work and leadership of his predecessor. He said: ‘On behalf of all the volunteers at Lough Ree RNLI, I would like to Tony for his leadership and dedication to the station over the last few years. I am now looking forward to taking up this role at a very exciting time for Lough Ree with our new station build nearing completion.

‘The most important thing for us at Lough Ree RNLI is to always be available to come to the assistance of visitors to Lough Ree and to those in the community who live around the lake in Longford, Westmeath and Roscommon.’

From its base near Athlone, Lough Ree RNLI’s volunteer crew responded to more than 40 call-outs last year helping people who got into difficulty on the lake.

The station has recently launched a major fundraising drive to raise €100,000 as a local contribution to the new boathouse which will greatly enhance the services to the community.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The Dun Laoghaire Harbour Squib fleet is making its plans for the 2021 season. Assuming that levels of Covid will drop sufficiently Dublin Bay Sailing Club have agreed to provide racing for a combined fleet of three-man wooden Mermaids and two-man GRP Squibs.

The Squibs give the Mermaids an allowance of one minute in the hour to make for fair racing.

The Dun Laoghaire Squib Fleet have reassessed their financial needs and realise they had enough money in their fleet bank account to buy a very good second-hand Squib.

Second-hand Squibs change hands for anything between €500 and €12,000 depending on manufacturer and condition.

Squibs (above) will give the Mermaids (below) an allowance of one minute in the hour to make for fair racing in DBSC racing this Summer. Photos Bob Bateman

mermaid racing

At an AGM held on Zoom last autumn, it was decided to make a substantial presentation to the Dun Laoghaire lifeboat.

The presentation of a cheque for €4,500 was made by Jill Fleming, Derek Jago and Gillian Fletcher on behalf of the Squib Fleet in late February 2021.

Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat was delighted to receive the presentation.

Vincent Delany
Dun Laoghaire Squib Captain

Published in Squib
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 Only a few days after Carrybridge RNLI which operates on Upper Lough Erne, received a generous donation from the Enniskillen Royal Boat Club, its Atlantic 85 Inshore lifeboat answered a shout yesterday (7th) to help a vessel with two people onboard which had developed engine difficulties.

The Douglas Euan and Kay Richards and a Rescue Watercraft arrived with the casualty vessel near the Share Discovery Village on the eastern shore of Upper Lough Erne.

Winds were South Westerly, Force 2 and visibility was good with overcast conditions. The crew found that the vessel had secured to a navigation marker and the people on the casualty boat were unharmed.

With the owner's permission, a tow was established, and the boat was then towed the short distance to Corradillar Quay.

On returning to the station the crew found a 4m section of a tree floating in the main navigation channel which was posing a significant risk to other water users. The crew were able to remove this from the water to allow for safe navigation.

Speaking following the call out, Stephen Scott, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Carrybridge RNLI advised all boat users: ''At this time of year when there isn't much boat movement on the water it is especially important before setting out to plan your journey, have the relevant charts required, 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.''

Carrybridge Lifeboat Station was founded in 2002 on Upper Lough Erne

Published in Inland Waterways
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It’s 580 km from Malin Head to Mizen Head and this was the distance covered by members of the Enniskillen Royal Boat Club in a fund-raising virtual row in aid of the Carrybridge RNLI on Lough Erne and Action Mental Health. The boat club is part of Enniskillen Royal Grammar School and has established itself as one of the top rowing clubs in the UK and Ireland. It is set in the historic school grounds’ Lough Shore site at the Portora Boat House.

Carrybridge lifeboat station is located at the village of Carrybridge on Upper Lough Erne, providing protection for those who use that Lough and its surrounding inland waterways.

The rowers handed over a substantial donation of £3,035.03, raised by the challenge to virtually row, run or cycle the distance of 580km. Shannon Clawson also carried out the return journey.

Stephen Scott of Carrybridge RNLI praised the rowers at ERBC for all their hard work and dedication raising money for both the RNLI and for Action Mental Health. “The funds raised will have a significant impact for the crews at both Carrybridge and Enniskillen and will assist with future lifesaving operations.”

Published in Rowing
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Volunteer lifeboat crew at Fethard RNLI were requested by the Irish Coast Guard on Sunday evening (28 February) at 5.15 pm to reports of three walkers who had become cut off by the incoming tide with no way of getting to safety. The alarm was raised by a concerned resident of Bannow Island who knew the area well and could see the walkers were in difficulty.

Fethard RNLI’s inshore lifeboat was launched and arrived at Cocklestrand, west of Bannow Island at 5.35 pm. The Kilmore Quay Coast Guard unit was also tasked. Once on scene, the lifeboat crew began the search for the stranded walkers. An extensive search of the north and south shoreline was carried out, but the walkers were nowhere to be seen and had made their own way to safety.

Commenting on the call out Mark Brennan, Fethard RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer said: ‘The member of the public did absolutely the right thing, reporting someone in difficulty. It is always better to be safe than sorry and we would much rather launch and find nothing than not launch at all, safety is always our priority. People are keen to exercise outside within government guidelines and we live in a beautiful area with lots of access to the coast. However, we would advise people to keep an eye on their surroundings, in particular, incoming tides and also to watch their footing on the shoreline. Always check the tide times and heights and keep a lookout for incoming tide. Use tide timetables or a tidal prediction app. Make sure you have enough time to return safely. If in doubt, seek local advice.

‘Fethard RNLI remain on call and fully operational during the Covid-19 pandemic. There is no crew training or exercises taking place at the moment, but we are here if people need us.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Like every other RNLI station, lifeboat volunteers at Kinsale RNLI have been unable to pursue their normal fundraising activities due to Covid-19 restrictions.

So they were surprised and delighted to receive a cheque recently for over $5,000 from a group of Irish expatriates in the USA.

McCarthy’s Bar in San Francisco — owned by Eileen McCarthy from Drinagh, West Cork — became an unlikely outpost for the lifeboat thanks to Kinsale native John Farley, who has lived in the Californian city for the past 30 years.

John is a lifelong supporter of the RNLI, with first-hand experience of their work after he, his sister and niece were rescued a number of years ago when their boat broke down off the Old Head.

Towards the end of the American NFL season, John organised a football pool with 25 friends, many from West Cork, for the final four San Francisco 49er games. They raised an incredible $5,200.

This is the largest single donation received by Kinsale RNLI since lockdown was introduced in March last, and the station says it will go a long way towards funding an essential service that has remained on call throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eileen and John have now installed an official RNLI collection box in McCarthy’s bar so fundraising can continue into the future. “We all appreciate that that RNLI is there for us when we need them, so we wanted to be there for them in their hour of need,” John said.

Kinsale RNLI lifeboat press officer Tricia Tyson commented: “John has been a great supporter down the years, and tells me their next big fundraiser will be for the RNLI in the Aran Islands as one of his group, Ronan Concannon, is from Aran Mor.

“We are delighted they are sharing their generosity with hardworking stations around Ireland. Our RNLI collection box only arrived in San Francisco a few weeks ago and John tells me it is almost full already.

“On behalf of all our RNLI volunteers, I wish to sincerely thank John, Eileen and all the McCarthy’s bar customers for remembering the RNLI back home. It just goes to prove the old adage that you can take a man out of Ireland, but you can’t take Ireland out of the man.”

The other Kinsale fundraisers in San Francisco are Fergus O’Shea, Derek Lovell, Polo Crosbie, Jason Davenport, Richard O’Keeffe, with John Farley and Kathleen Barry in Boston, Gertie O’Shea in Vancouver and the Callanan family, related to John Farley, who live in Kinsale.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Clifden RNLI launched both its Shannon class all-weather and Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboats this morning (Friday 26 February) after an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) was accidentally activated, giving a position west of Turbot Island.

The volunteer crews were requested to launch their lifeboats at 9.28 am and they immediately made their way to the scene. An Irish Coast Guard helicopter was also tasked.

Weather conditions at the time were good with a south-westerly Force 4 wind, good visibility, and a moderate ground swell.

The lifeboat crews conducted a thorough search for approximately two and a half hours, but nothing was found. During the search, information was relayed to the crews that the EPIRB may have been accidentally activated at a property on a nearby empty island. The crew conducted a shoreline search on the island. The search was subsequently called off and the lifeboats were stood down at 12.19 pm.

Speaking following the call out, John Brittain, Clifden RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘While we were quite concerned when the pagers went off this morning, we are glad that all is well and that no one was in danger. This was a false alarm in the sense that an EPIRB was accidentally activated, but we would always much rather launch and search to ensure everything is ok, than not launch at all.

‘I would like to commend our volunteers and our colleagues in the Irish Coast Guard for their teamwork in today’s search. We would encourage anyone who gets into difficulty or sees someone else in trouble, to dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A woman was rescued from a sea inlet in West Cork after a more than 90-minute ordeal yesterday evening, Thursday 25 February.

The casualty had got caught in the swelling tide just off the slipway at Dunworley Beach near Butlerstown before 5pm.

Fortunately her shouts for help were heard above the sinkhole leading to the inlet a local walker, who immediately called the rescue services.

Courtmacsherry RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat attended the scene alongside the Irish Coast Guard’s helicopter Rescue 115 from Shannon and the land-based Old Head/Seven Heads coastguard unit, who rigged up their ropes to climb down the sinkhole and reach the casualty.

The woman was then successfully raised up the sink hole cliff face to the care of a waiting HSE ambulance crew.

Courtmacsherry RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer Vincent O'Donovan said: “It was great to see the total dedication of so many voluntary people from all the rescue services today and everyday in these difficult Covid times, who drop all and rush to the aid of others in difficulties.”

O'Donovan reiterated the importance of calling the rescue services at 112 or 999 quickly once any incident like this occurs, as they are always at the ready 24 hours a day — and every minute is so important to any person in difficulty.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

RNLI Portrush has posted that RNLI Lifeguards are recruiting and applications are open for 2021.

If you have a National Vocational Beach Lifeguard qualification and are interested in joining a dynamic, well-trained team responsible for keeping beach users safe around the RNLI patrolled beaches, then this may be for you.

In Northern Ireland, recruitment is open for the Causeways Coast and County Down beaches. Those on the Causeway Coast are Benone Strand, Downhill, Castlerock, Portstewart Strand, Portrush East and West Strands, Whiterocks and Ballycastle. In County Down, Tyrella, Murlough and Cranfield are all on the South Down coast. It is advised to apply for an area, not a particular beach.

You can find information here

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