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Lough Derg RNLI’s volunteers have thanked Catherine Gleeson who is retiring after five years as the station’s deputy launching authority.

Following their February monthly meeting recently, volunteers at Lough Derg held a party for Catherine, a lawyer by profession, who said that she was sad to be leaving.

She added that it had been a “great honour to volunteer at the station for the past five years”, that she was “in awe of the dedication of the crew” and has “enormous respect for your bravery out on a shout”.

Catherine said it was a “unique privilege when on duty to monitor and log the radio communications between the crew, the coastguard and casualty vessels”.

Christine O’Malley, lifeboat operations manager (LOM) at Lough Derg RNLI said that both she and Catherine joined the lifeboat operations team at the same time. Christine said she valued Catherine as a friend and fellow volunteer who offered sage advice as Christine took up the role of LOM at the station.

On behalf of the crew and operations team, helm Eleanor Hooker presented Catherine with the gift of an oil painting by Tipperary artist Áine Quinlan.

Eleanor thanked Catherine for all her hard work on behalf of the volunteers, her positivity and her brilliant sense of humour. On more than one occasion Catherine had stayed on at the station with Eleanor while she wrote up her press release following a rescue.

Catherine will be missed as a valuable member of the station, Lough Derg RNLI says.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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An 18 metre fishing boat that suffered propeller failure 27 miles south of Ballycotton yesterday (Wednesday, 15 February) was brought to safety by a lifeboat crew from Ballycotton RNLI.

Ballycotton RNLI Lifeboat The Douglas Aikman Smith was requested to launch by Valentia Coast Guard at 1.20 pm to a fishing boat that had suffered difficulties due to marine debris that had become wrapped around the propeller.

Winds of force 3-5, with two metre swell and heavy rain meant visibility was poor and conditions difficult. Once the crew had located the stricken vessel and had confirmed all crew were safe and well a secure tow line was established. Towing at a speed of six knots Ballycotton RNLI and the fishing boat returned to Ballycotton at 7.45pm. Once tied up and the crew were safely on shore a diver was able to remove the ghost net that was wrapped around the propeller.

Commenting on the callout Ballycotton RNLI Coxswain Trevor Devereux said, ‘Thankfully, all six people were wearing lifejackets and had called for help as soon as they encountered difficulties’.

Ghost nets are a major environmental hazard to marine and other wildlife, contributing to an estimated 10% of all marine plastic and causing harm to two-thirds of marine species.

The lifeboat returned to Ballycotton at 7.45pm for wash down and refuel ready for service.

The lifeboat crew were made up of Trevor Devereux as Coxswain, Adam Hussey as Mechanic, Eolan Breathnach as Navigator and Alan Cott, Cíaran Walsh and Michael Kenneally.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The Council of The Royal National Lifeboat Institution recorded their sincere thanks to volunteer Stephen Wynne of Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI Lifeboat Station in recognition of his dedicated commitment to the RNLI since 1975 at a ceremony held last night where he was presented with the prestigious ‘Excellence in Volunteering’ award.

As Lifeboat Operations Manager, his willingness to embrace change and drive progress while supporting his volunteers was exemplary. Stephen has been an outstanding ambassador for the RNLI and has dedicated himself to building strong and lasting relationships with local stakeholders, which continue to benefit the Institution. Stephen has continuously displayed the RNLI values of being trustworthy, courageous, selfless, and dependable. His contribution has helped the RNLI to save lives at sea.

Speaking at the award ceremony, Dun Laoghaire RNLI volunteer Stephen Wynne said: ‘The success of a lifeboat station is what all the dedicated volunteers bring to it. I am glad to have been, and continue to be, of service to the great organisation that is the RNLI, and to the community at Dun Laoghaire”.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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John Sillery, the long-serving Head Launcher at Wicklow Lifeboat Station, has retired after 34 years of dedicated service to the RNLI.

John joined the RNLI on New Year’s Day 1989 as a volunteer winch operator. He was appointed head launcher at Wicklow and took charge on the slip of all launching and recovery activities for the all-weather Tyne class lifeboat RNLB Annie Blaker.

John Sillery Photo: RNLI/Nigel MillardJohn Sillery Photo: RNLI/Nigel Millard

In lifeboat history, John will be remembered for launching the last operation Tyne Class slipway lifeboat in the RNLI fleet, at 1:30pm on Sunday 28 April 2019 to the sound of loud applause, John Sillery, struck the pin which released the Annie Blaker down the slipway and into the water for the final time, ending an era that spanned over three decades at Wicklow and signalling the retirement of the last Tyne class lifeboat from the RNLI fleet.

2019 saw the arrival of the new Shannon class lifeboat at Wicklow and the same year John Sillery received his Long Service Award from the RNLI. This was in recognition for his commitment and dedication to the charity that saves lives at sea.

With the arrival of the new Shannon class lifeboat, John was responsible for launching and recovering operations at the South Quay berth.

To mark John’s retirement, family, friends and lifeboat crew gathered at the Wicklow Golf Club to celebrate his long service as a volunteer

Wicklow RNLI Operation’s Manager, Mary Aldridge paid tribute to John’s commitment over the past 34 years. Flowers were also presented to Maria Sillery, John’s wife, a token to say thank you for supporting John and sharing him with us over the years. Coxswain Nick Keogh also presented John with a specially commissioned lamp in the shape of a lighthouse, a gift from the crew to say thank you.

John Sillery with his wife Maria and family at the retirement party in the Wicklow Golf Club Photo: Tommy Dover/RNLIJohn Sillery with his wife Maria and family at the retirement party in the Wicklow Golf Club Photo: Tommy Dover/RNLI

We are indebted to John for his service at Wicklow RNLI. Since 1989 he has launched the lifeboat countless times that resulted in the saving of many lives along the Wicklow coast.

Second Coxswain Ciaran Doyle best described John during a speech on the night saying “John Sillery was Solid as a rock; he was always the first person to arrive at the station during a shout ready to launch the lifeboat. Thank you for the years.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The volunteer inshore lifeboat crew at Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI have had a busy weekend with two callouts. The first call came on Saturday (11 February) at 12.30 pm for a man and his dog, who had become cut off by the tide at Sandymount and the second, this morning (Sunday 12 February), at 8.21 am was to a man who had injured himself falling on rocks at Poolbeg.

The lifeboat callout to the dog walker in Sandymount yesterday, follows on from a similar callout to a woman and her dog two weeks ago, in the same location. In this case, the man had become cut off from the shore when his dog had run into the water and he was retrieving him. The tide came in very fast and he became trapped on a sandbank with his clothing soaked up to chest level. The alarm was raised and the inshore lifeboat crew from Dun Laoghaire RNLI responded. A crew member left the lifeboat and made their way to the man and his dog, where he checked their condition. They were then taken onboard the lifeboat and brought to shore, where they were met by members of Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard.

Commenting on the callout, Dun Laoghaire RNLI Helm, Laura Jackson said, ‘This was a very fast launch for the volunteer lifeboat crew and we were on the water within five minutes of our pagers being activated. What catches many people out who walk in this area, is just how fast the tide comes in and also, that it approaches from behind. You can get into difficulty so quickly and when you look up, you are surrounded by water and unsure of the depth. It can be quite disorientating.’

The second callout also involved members of Dublin Fire Service, who were on scene with a member of the public who had fallen on rocks at Poolbeg. The lifeboat crew were called out as access to the casualty was only possible by water, due to their location on the rocks. Working closely with members of Dublin Fire Service, Dun Laoghaire RNLI were able to assist with the transfer of the casualty from the rocks to Dublin Fire Service’s rescue craft. From there, they were brought to a nearby slipway, to receive further medical attention.

Dun Laoghaire RNLI Helm Laura Jackson further added, ‘It’s been a busy weekend for our inshore lifeboat crew at Dun Laoghaire with two very different callouts. We train for anything and it is always good to work alongside our colleagues in the other services, in this case, Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard and the Dublin Fire Service. We hope both casualties and our four legged one recover well from the incidents.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

On Thursday, February 9, Rosslare Harbour RNLI responded to a call early in the morning and helped two sailors.

The Irish Coast Guard called the volunteer crew at 3.20 a.m. to deploy their all-weather lifeboat and rescue two yachtsmen after their 10-metre yacht encountered trouble off the coast of Rosslare.

Six crew members were on board the lifeboat, which was coxswain by Eamonn O'Rourke. It launched immediately and headed to the incident at South Blackwater Buoy, about 12 nautical miles north of Rosslare Harbour.

The night time weather conditions were described as good, with a Force 3 wind and a calm sea.

Arriving on scene, the lifeboat crew observed that the two male sailors were safe and well. The yacht had got into difficulty when it experienced engine problems.

Having assessed the situation, a decision was made to tow the yacht and her crew safely back to Rosslare Europort, where the operation ended successfully at 6.40 am.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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If you were in Ballycotton last Friday night you might be forgiven for thinking you had stepped back in time or stepped into the wrong saloon! The Blackbird Bar was transformed into a scene straight out of Tombstone Arizona, complete with straw bales, gingham tablecloths, ‘wanted’ posters of local ‘outlaws’ and bursting with a cowboys and cowgirls ready to muster up and raise vital funds for Ballycotton RNLI.

The night was a huge success. Thanks to the generosity of the 140 guests on the night, and the support of local business and individuals, the event raised a total of €9,248 through ticket sales, donations and a raffle. As a huge bonus Green Rebel pledged to match-fund the figure raised on the night, doubling the total money raised to a phenomenal €18,496.00. And due to the generosity of local businesses who sponsored every aspect of the event, 100% of funds raised will go directly to supporting Ballycotton RNLI.

On arrival, folks were welcomed by Sheriff Áine Flynn and her trusty sidekick Síle Scanlon (dressed as a horse!), who both took a night off from volunteering as crew members on the lifeboat to greet Ballycotton bandits as they arrived. Once all pistols had been accounted for, they were offered a complimentary drink, choosing between a Kentucky Mule (sponsored by Matson’s Wine Store) or beer (courtesy of Heineken), to quench their thirst. Country music filled the air along with the sweet smell of succulent BBQ pig roasting on a spit. The Spitting Pig company cooked up a feast with roasted pig, chicken & vegetarian dishes with a mouth-watering selection of salads that had everyone coming back for more - all generously sponsored by VTSL Ireland.

Once everyone was fed and watered it didn’t take much for The Ryan Phoenix band (sponsored by The Blackbird), to quickly get the crowd on the dance floor. Pumping out a selection of rousing country tunes, a sea of Stetsons, check shirts and denim danced the night away and when the band finished playing DJ Mossie Tattan made sure to keep the fun and dancing going till closing.

Fundraising committee member Fiona Clark said “We pulled this event together in a very short time, but once the theme was agreed it didn’t take long for people to get in the spirit of it, with one local farmer supplying us with straw bales at the last minute. We are very lucky to have such great supporters and patrons of the Ballycotton RNLI, who year after year give so generously to help this crucial service that is run solely on donations. We want to give special thanks to our generous sponsors including The Blackbird Bar, VTSL Ireland, MTA1, Matson’s Wine Store and of course Green Rebel. And there are many more who supported with raffle prizes and donations - it really does take a village, and it was wonderful to see everyone put so much effort into dressing up and having a fun time for a great cause. On the strength of the night, we hope to go bigger again next year. So, if you missed out you have a whole year to plan your costume!”

The RNLI is a registered charity supported solely by donations and fundraising. It costs approximately €250,000 per year to keep the station and lifeboat operational, €1,667 to train one volunteer crew member and €1,786 to kit them out. Funds raised at the event will ensure that the crew has the necessary equipment and training to continue to keep our coastline safe.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Seven members of Arklow RNLI have been honoured for their roles in a challenging and exhausting service, almost seven hours in duration, which saw a crew of three people, onboard a nine-metre yacht rescued. For his exceptional display of seamanship in the service, a Signed Letter of Thanks from the Chairman of the Institution was awarded to Arklow RNLI Coxswain Brendan Dillon. For their teamwork in challenging sea conditions and their part in completing a highly effective service, individual Chief Executive Commendations were awarded to 2nd Mechanic Eddie McElheron and volunteer crewmembers Austin Gaffney, Geoffrey Kearns, Trevor Conroy, Craig O’Reilly, Daniel Downey.

As Afloat reported, the rescue was carried out on 4 August 2020, 24 nautical miles east-southeast of Arklow. The 9-metre yacht, Infinite Jest was on passage from Newlyn, in England to Largs, in Scotland, and was experiencing very poor weather and rough sea conditions, with the crew of three people, suffering from exhaustion and seasickness. It was a demanding service, also involving a tow from the lifeboat, which lasted over three hours, in winds up to Force 8, with upwards of 5-metre swells, at night. The service itself lasted nearly seven hours.

On launching in Force 7 conditions, at 6.58 pm that evening, the Coxswain of Arklow lifeboat, Brendan Dillon, headed towards the last reported position of the yacht, Infinite Jest, immediately feeling the effect of the conditions as they left the shelter afforded by land. On receiving an updated position from the Coast Guard, he adjusted his course to cross the Arklow Bank, to intercept the yacht. In doing this, while operating in such challenging sea conditions, he enabled the lifeboat to significantly reduce their time to reach the casualty vessel.

On successfully crossing Arklow Bank, the lifeboat’s primary navigation system was non-operational, with only the secondary GPS fully functional. The Coxswain requested the Navigator, Trevor Conroy, to calculate their position using speed and direction. In Force eight winds and a five-metre swell, the Arklow lifeboat Ger Tigchelaar arrived on scene at 8.20pm, having successfully located the casualty vessel.

The yacht, which was sailing with only her jib set, was instructed to take up a course behind the lifeboat, to be escorted to Wicklow Harbour, as the nearest safe port. After an hour on this course the yacht’s skipper informed the lifeboat, by VHF Radio, that it was proving difficult to maintain their course under sail and they were making poor headway. The Coxswain then asked the skipper if they could take in their sail and use their engine to maintain their course, behind the lifeboat, until they were closer to land.

Arklow RNLI brings the distressed yacht alongside at Wicklow Harbour in August 2020 Photo: RNLI/Tommy DoverArklow RNLI brings the distressed yacht alongside at Wicklow Harbour in August 2020 Photo: RNLI/Tommy Dover

As darkness was falling, the lifeboat took the yacht under tow, as the crew were exhausted and suffering from seasickness. Three members of the Arklow Lifeboat crew, led by Austin Gaffney, passed a heaving line to the casualty vessel. In very challenging conditions, the tow was established with the lifeboat maintaining radio contact with the yacht every 15 minutes, providing technical guidance, encouraging the tired crew to hydrate, offering support and informing them of progress to safe harbour. Wicklow RNLI was also placed on standby to launch if required, with their shore crew ready to receive both vessels into Wicklow Harbour.

As the lifeboat neared the Harbour, the crew of the yacht informed them that due to crew exhaustion, they could not make the berth under their own power and would require further support. The Coxswain requested Eddie McElheron to board the yacht in full protective equipment to assist. The lifeboat arrived at Wicklow Harbour at 12.55 am with the Infinite Jest on an alongside tow.

In recognising Coxswain Brendan Dillon’s role in commanding the lifeboat during such a challenging rescue, RNLI Chair Stuart Popham said he ‘showed excellent leadership qualities and sound decision making under the pressure of knowing what a precarious situation the casualty was in, and the risks presented to his lifeboat and crew. Throughout, he led by example, extolling the core values of the RNLI in all his actions.’

In awarding the lifeboat crew for their actions on the service, Mr Popham added, ‘This was a demanding service. The sea conditions, towing at night and crew transfer all presented risk and challenges. The crew demonstrated courage and resilience throughout. The deck crew on the Lifeboat performed faultlessly, showing skill, teamwork and a high degree of professionalism.’

The presentations were made during Arklow RNLI’s sold-out fundraising event ‘Dan’s Hurry to the Curry, which was held at the Arklow Bay Hotel after an absence of a few years due to the pandemic. The awards were presented on the night by RNLI Trustee and Chair of the Irish Council, Mr John Killeen.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Skerries RNLI towed a razor-clam fishing boat with two men on board to safety on Tuesday afternoon (31 January) after they suffered mechanical failure near Rockabill lighthouse.

The volunteers in Skerries launched the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Louis Simson shortly after 1.30pm. They were paged following a notification from Dublin Coast Guard that a fishing vessel had broken down and required assistance near the Rockabill lighthouse.

The all-weather lifeboat from Howth RNLI was also tasked and their volunteers set off from Howth towards the vessel.

Skerries RNLI proceeded towards the position indicated by the stricken vessel, and following a short search of the area quickly located the boat some four miles northwest of Rockabill.

It emerged that the fishers had suffered a major mechanical failure and were unable to make any headway under their own power.

Due to the sea conditions, and the potential hazard to other vessels in the area, the lifeboat helm decided that the safest course of action was to tow the fishing boat back to the nearest safe port in Skerries.

An astern tow was established and the lifeboat proceeded towards Skerries with Howth RNLI standing by and providing escort in case the conditions deteriorated any further or the tow parted.

In the calmer water outside the harbour in Skerries, the fishing boat was taken into an alongside tow before being carefully manoeuvred against the pier.

Conditions at the time had Force 5-6 northwesterly winds with a slight to moderate chop.

Speaking about the callout, Gerry Canning, volunteer lifeboat press officer for Skerries RNLI said: “This was a job well done in challenging conditions by the volunteers here in Skerries and also the volunteers from Howth.

“We would remind anyone going to sea to ensure that they have all the safety equipment they need. And where possible carry a VHF radio as mobile phone signal can be unreliable when you are further from the shore.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Flying Fifteen sailor John MacAree was part of a major fundraising effort in aid of Wicklow RNLI by the members of Swim Smooth Ireland, who presented a cheque for more than €10,000 at the weekend.

The swimming club’s big charity swim took place on Saturday 10 December at the Killashee Hotel in Naas, where members swam 5km or 10km in the pool where they regularly train, as the Wicklow People reports.

Smooth Swim Ireland chose the Wicklow lifeboat as their fundraising recipient as Wicklow Harbour is a used for some of the members’ training during the summer months.

On Sunday morning (29 January) the lifeboat team said they were delighted to welcome Maxine Stain from Swim Smooth Ireland along with members of the swimming squad to present a cheque for €10,640 to Wicklow RNLI.

Karen Boyle of Wicklow RNLI’s fundraising branch accepted the donation on behalf of the RNLI — before some of the swimmers took the opportunity for a cold-water dip in the harbour.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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