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Clifden RNLI’s volunteer crew were tasked by the Irish Coast Guard at 1.45pm on Tuesday (26 October) following a report that three people were stranded on Omey Island.

The Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat was launched by volunteer helm Kenny Flaherty with Joe Acton and Neill Gallery as crew.

Weather conditions were good with calm seas and the lifeboat crew had no difficulty locating the walkers on Omey Island.

The casualties were found to be well and did not require medical assistance. They were returned to the shore at Claddaghduff where Cleggan Coast Guard provided further assistance.

Speaking after the shout, Clifden RNLI lifeboat operations officer John Brittain said: “We would remind locals and visitors to always check tide times and heights before venturing out to Omey and to always make sure you have enough time to return safely.

“If you do get cut off by the tide, it is important to stay where you are and not attempt a return to shore on your own as that may be when the danger presents and you get into difficulty.

“Always carry a means of communication and should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Portaferry RNLI came to the aid of two people on Saturday evening (21 October) after they got cut off by the tide at Rough Island at the northern end of Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland.

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat at 5.25pm at the request of Belfast Coastguard.

Helmed by Dave Fisher and with crew members Molly Crowe, Rosslyn Watret and George Toma onboard, the lifeboat launched immediately and made its way to the scene at Rough Island, which has a causeway that covers a period of 2-3 hours before high tide.

Weather conditions at the time were good with a Force 3-4 wind and a slight sea state.

Once on scene, the crew observed that the man and woman were both safe and well before taking them onboard the lifeboat and bringing them safely back to shore.

Speaking following the call-out, Heather Kennedy, Portaferry RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “We were delighted to be able to assist both people safely back to shore.

“We would remind anyone planning a walk to always check weather and tide time signage before venturing out as it can be easy to get caught out by the incoming tide at high water.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The RNLI’s 200 Voices podcast talks to Mark Hudson — grandson of Audrey Lawson Johnston, the youngest survivor of the Lusitania disaster — on his family’s remarkable story that ignited a life-long passion and commitment to helping save lives at sea.

In episode 61 of the podcast series, which explores captivating tales from the history of the charity that saves lives at sea through to the modern day, Mark recounts that fateful night in 1915 and its impact on his great-grandparents and granny Audrey.

On 7 May 1915, en route from New York to Liverpool, the passenger liner Lusitania was torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Cork. The vessel sank within 18 minutes and 1,200 lives were lost.

Against the odds, Mark’s granny Audrey, who was just three months old at the time, survived along with her mother Amy Lea, father Warren, brother Stuart and one of the family’s nursemaids, 18-year-old Alice Lines.

Mark explains the chaos of his granny’s rescue once the torpedoes had hit the ship: “Alice grabbed Audrey and Stuart and ran to the deck to try and get in a lifeboat. The ship was listing dramatically, a lifeboat was lowered… she jumped off the side to try and land in it, holding my granny in her arms and Stuart by the hand.

“They landed in the water and were pulled into a lifeboat and were saved that way.”

Courtmacsherry RNLI volunteers rowed for more than three hours to reach the area in an attempt to help with the rescue operation.

Mark said: “They had no motor and no wind and the RNLI spent three-and-a-half hours rowing to the scene. By the time they got there any survivors had been picked up, so they then spent eight hours recovering bodies.”

Sadly, Audrey’s sisters Susan and Amy, along with the family’s second nursemaid Greta Lorenson, were never found.

This pivotal moment in the family’s life became the start of their long association with the RNLI.

“We can’t find out how much my great granny [Amy Lea] did for the lifeboats, but the whole family became very involved for obvious reasons. It’s said she always raised money for the lifeboats which she passed onto granny,” Mark said.

Amy Lea was in fact pregnant when she survived the sinking of the Lusitania and eight months after the tragedy, Vivian ‘Perky’ Warren Pearl was born.

Perky and Audrey continued their mother’s dedicated fundraising for the lifesaving charity and in 2004 they raised enough money for a new D class lifeboat, which they named Amy Lea.

Amy Lea became New Quay RNLI’s inshore lifeboat, which went on to aid 93 people and save four lives during its operational service.

‘One thing my granny used to say was, “I was saved for a reason and this is it” and that’s what she said when she dedicated the Amy Lea’

This wasn’t the only lifeboat funded by the family. Led by Mark’s father Martin and his brother Hugh, they raised enough money for New Quay’s next inshore lifeboat, naming it Audrey LJ.

When Amy Lea was retired, Audrey LJ came on service and is still operational today, although soon to be retired at the end of this year. During its service, Audrey LJ has launched 189 times, aided 150 casualties and saved the lives of six people.

Mark said: “For me it’s just so perfectly circular that she was saved from drowning and then spent a good deal of her life raising money to give the RNLI the tools to save other people… And in turn, gave that legacy to her children and grandchildren.

“You just think ‘wow’, because of this it does make a difference — those people were saved as an indirect result of this whole legacy that’s been set in motion.

“One thing my granny used to say was, ‘I was saved for a reason and this is it’ and that’s what she said when she dedicated the Amy Lea.”

Last month Mark wrote his own name into his family’s lifesaving story as he organised a charity bike ride as a fitting farewell to his granny’s legacy and the soon-to-be-retired Audrey LJ lifeboat.

Cycling a punishing 190 miles from Swansea to New Quay, 21 cyclists visited 10 RNLI lifeboat stations along the way. So far the Tour de Dyfed has raised almost £28,000 and counting, and all the proceeds will be shared equally between New Quay and Tower Lifeboat Stations.

“It was the most incredible experience for everyone involved… this amazing camaraderie developed and it opened the eyes of all of us as to what these people do,” Mark said.

“The community that builds around the lifeboat stations is something truly incredible to behold… I love being a part of this story, giving something back.”

Listen to episode 61 of the RNLI’s 200 Voices — Lifesaving in Wartime: Mark Hudson — and you can donate to his fundraising efforts by visiting the Tour de Dyfed JustGiving page.

The RNLI’s 200 Voices podcast is releasing a new episode every day for 200 days in the run-up to the charity’s bicentenary on 4 March 2024, exploring captivating stories from the charity’s history and through to the current day.

Previous episodes have featured Niamh Fitzpatrick’s personal reflection on losing her sister Dara at sea in the Rescue 116 tragedy, Courtown lifeboat crew member and priest Fr Tom Dalton on what happens when rescue turns into recovery, and Baltimore RNLI’s Kieran Cotter remembering the 1979 Fastnet tragedy.

To find out more about the RNLI’s bicentenary, visit

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Aran Islands RNLI’s volunteer crew responded to two medical evacuation requests on Wednesday night (18 October).

Pagers were first activated at 7.10pm following a report that a patient on Inis Mór was in need of further medical attention. The all-weather lifeboat launched under coxwain Aonghus Ó hIarnáin and a full crew of volunteers.

Conditions at the time of launching were choppy, with an easterly Force 4 wind blowing and a two-metre sea swell.

The patient was transferred safely aboard the lifeboat under the supervision of the volunteer crew at the pontoon at Kilronan Harbour.

Upon transferring the patient over to the waiting ambulance at Rossaveal Harbour, the volunteers made their way home where upon arrival they were requested to launch the lifeboat again, with another patient on Inis Mór in need of further medical attention.

Weather conditions for the second medevac had a Force 5-6 easterly wind blowing with slight seas and reasonable visibility.

This second patient was transferred safely aboard the lifeboat and the crew headed straight for Rossaveal and a awaiting ambulance.

Speaking after the double call-out, Ó hIarnáin said: “We would like to wish both patients a speedy recovery. As always our crew never hesitate to answer the call and were delighted to be able to help.”

Aran Islands RNLI crew on Wednesday night alongside Ó hIarnáin included mechanic Mairtín Eoin Coyne, Joe Gill, Daniel O’Connell, Caelan Cullen Quinn, Billy Gillan and Michael Faherty.

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Machinery failure in motorboats is the most common cause of lifeboat call-outs.

So says the RNLI in the Autumn edition of its magazine – Offshore – which focuses on engine failure – how to prevent a small niggle from becoming an emergency.

“Prevention is better than cure when it comes to your diesel system,” writes Andy Wright, an RNLI Area Livesaving Manager. “Keeping your diesel engine well serviced is essential.”

He covers Cornwall and along the Bristol Channel, is an experienced Skipper of large sail training yachts, and has his own 35-footer.

The Autumn edition of the RNLI magazine – Offshore – focuses on engine failureThe Autumn edition of the RNLI magazine – Offshore – focuses on engine failure

As recent call-outs have shown on the Irish coastline, it is not only motorboats which have had engine failures resulting in emergency calls for lifeboat assistance. Auxiliary engines in yachts have also caused problems.

This edition of the OFFSHORE magazine gives detailed advice about engines.

“Even with the best preparation and skill, the unexpected can happen. If your engine fails and you can’t get back underway, finding yourself without power or control in a shipping lane or drifting onto a lee shore, don’t be afraid to ask for help,” says Wright. “Every lifeboat crew will tell you they’d rather get the call to launch before things get too dangerous.”

Two rescues by Howth inshore lifeboat previously featured on Afloat here are featured in OFFSHORE magazine.

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The volunteer crew of Sligo Bay RNLI served up another fish supper last Friday (6 October) to 200 guests at The Strand Bar in Strandhill.

The seafood night raised an amazing €6,587, all of which will go towards training and equipping the lifeboat station’s volunteers to help save lives at sea.

This year, Starcrest Seafoods was the main sponsor for the night with some of their team accompanying the crew on the night.

Sligo Bay is celebrating 25 years of service in Rosses Point this year. Between its founding in 1998 and ythe end of 2022, Sligo Bay’s volunteers launched 420 times on service, with 368 people rescued, 28 of whom were lives saved.

Starcrest Seafoods was the main sponsor for the seafood supper hosted by Sligo Bay RNLI volunteers at The Strand Bar in Strandhill on Friday 6 October | Credit: RNLI/Donal HackettStarcrest Seafoods was the main sponsor for the seafood supper hosted by Sligo Bay RNLI volunteers at The Strand Bar in Strandhill on Friday 6 October | Credit: RNLI/Donal Hackett

Over the years, the lifeboat crew have spent 1,592 hours at sea on call-outs, not counting the twice-weekly training that takes place throughout the year.

But all of this would not be possible without the support and donations for which the team is extremely grateful.

Speaking after the seafood night, organiser Mark Ballantine said: “The support that Sligo Bay RNLI received is just tremendous. I would like to thank Starcrest Seafood for their sponsorship this year and all our other sponsors: The Strand Bar for hosting and cooking for us, those who donated raffle prizes and all who turned out and supported our night. Tickets sold out incredible fast this year. I am looking forward to next year already.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Arklow RNLI launched on Sunday (8 October) at around 11am following a pager alert by the Irish Coast Guard reporting swimmers in difficulty at the Co Wicklow town’s South Beach.

The volunteer crew made their way to the lifeboat station and within minutes of the request were aboard the all-weather lifeboat Ger Tigchlearr and en route to the reported location just outside Arklow Piers.

Once on scene, the lifeboat crew were made aware that there were two open-water swimmers in the area, with another person on a paddleboard.

Thankfully, it was established that they were not in difficulty and the lifeboat stood by the swimmers as they completed their swim and returned to shore.

Initial reports had said there were swimmers in difficulty and shouting for help but it was established they were communicating within the group and the shouts for help were misheard.

Following the call-out, Mark Corcoran, volunteer lifeboat press officer at Arklow RNLI said: “In this case, it turned out there was no one in difficulty. However, we would always encourage anyone who suspects they have heard any kind of call for help to phone 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

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The volunteer lifeboat crew from Larne RNLI in Northern Ireland will feature in the new series of popular TV show Saving Lives at Sea on BBC Two at 8pm next Thursday 12 October.

Featuring footage captured on helmet and boat cameras, viewers watch dramatic rescues through the eyes of RNLI lifesavers while meeting the people behind the pagers and those rescued by the charity’s lifesavers.

The popular 10-part documentary is now in its eighth series and includes the lifesaving work of RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews and lifeguards from around Ireland and the UK.

It’s also available to watch on the BBC iPlayer for viewers in the UK following broadcast.

Including interviews with lifeboat crews and lifeguards, the series will also hear from those rescued and their families who, thanks to RNLI lifesavers, are here to tell the tale.

This forthcoming episode, on Thursday 12 October, includes Larne RNLI’s rescue of a capsized kayaker alongside rescue stories from their colleagues at other stations and beaches around the coast.

Larne RNLI helm Barry Kirkpatrick, who was on the call-out and will feature in the upcoming episode, said: “Our lifesaving work would not be possible without donations from the public and we are delighted to be able to share a frontline view of the rescues they support with their kind generosity.

“This is the first time Larne RNLI features on the Saving Lives at Sea series and this rescue is a good example of where our volunteers’ training, skills and experience all come to the fore in helping bring a casualty to safety. It also highlights the great teamwork not just among our own volunteers but with our colleagues from the various emergency services.

“The call for help in this rescue comes late at night following reports of a person capsized from their kayak. After a search, we locate the casualty floating on his back in the middle of the bay, who is estimated to be in the water for up to one hour and very cold.

“We bring him onboard the lifeboat and make our way back to the beach as quickly as possible while beginning first aid to try and warm him up but we are concerned about signs of hypothermia. Once on shore, we are assisted by our colleagues in the coastguard and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

“In this rescue, the casualty's wife does the right thing by calling 999 and asking for the Coastguard when she realises her husband is in difficulty in the water. The kayaker also does the right thing by floating on his back with his arms stretched out. He is floating to live.”

If you get inspired to volunteer with the RNLI by the series, there are a variety of roles from lifeboat crew, to fundraiser, lifeguard to shop volunteer. Fund out more at

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Larne RNLI came to the aid of a swimmer who got into difficulty half a mile from Portmuck Harbour on Wednesday afternoon (4 October).

The station’s volunteers were requested by Belfast Coastguard to launch both their all-weather and inshore lifeboats before 12.30pm.

It followed a 999 call from a member of the public who raised the alarm after they observed two swimmers who they thought were not making any progress against a strong offshore wind on Northern Ireland’s East Antrim coast.

There was a Force 4-5 south-westerly wind blowing at the time that the all-weather lifeboat, under coxswain Barry Kirkpatrick, and the inshore lifeboat, helmed by Chris Dorman, were launched.

Arriving on scene first, the all-weather lifeboat crew quickly located a casualty around half a mile from the harbour and brought him onboard the lifeboat. He was cold but otherwise safe and well and in good spirits.

The second swimmer had managed to make his way safely back to shore unaided. The inshore lifeboat crew checked he too was safe and well before taking the first swimmer onboard and bringing both ashore and into the care of the Portmuck Coastguard team.

Speaking following the call-out, Phil Ford-Hutchinson, Larne RNLI’s deputy launching authority said: “We would like to commend the member of the public who raised the alarm today when they spotted what they thought was two swimmers in difficulty; that is always the right thing to do. We would also like to commend the swimmers who had swim floats with them.

“We would remind anyone planning an activity at sea to always go prepared. Check weather and tide times before venturing out, let someone on the shore know where you are going and when you are due back, carry a means of communication such as a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch and should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112, and ask for the coastguard.”

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Former president Mary McAleese recalls her close family connections with the lifeboat service in the latest episode of the RNLI “200 Voices” series.

McAleese was born in Belfast, grew up on the shores of Carlingford Lough and now lives close to a lake in the west of Ireland.

The podcast, “Storms and Teacups”, which is released this week as part of the series to mark the RNLI’s bicentenary, notes that Jeremiah O’Connell, her son-in-law’s grandfather, was coxswain of Kerry’s Valentia lifeboat nearly 150 years ago.

McAleese admits to “not being the strongest of swimmers” in the interviews. She also recalls many of the charity events she attended during her term as president, and pays tribute to the RNLI’s volunteering spirit.

The podcast series involves people connected to the RNLI in Ireland, and those whose lives have been touched by the lifesaving charity.

Initiated in August, it has already recorded interviews with Niamh Fitzpatrick, sister of the late Rescue 116 helicopter Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, and Fr Tom Dalton, an RNLI crew member in Courtown, Co Wexford.

Baltimore RNLI’s Kieran Cotter recalled his involvement in responding to the 1979 Fastnet yacht, while the challenge of saving lives in a remote place was the theme of an interview with recently retired Aran islands GP Dr Marion Broderick.

Later in the autumn, the series will also hear from “ambassadors”, including musician Phil Coulter, who speaks about writing the RNLI anthem, “Home from the Sea”.

The RNLI’s 200 Voices is available wherever you get your podcasts or at

To find out more about the RNLI’s bicentenary, visit

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