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Sean Walsh, a volunteer crew member at Union Hall RNLI in West Cork, has this week passed out as a helm for the station.

The helm is responsible for the Union Hall inshore lifeboat during launching, at sea and through recovery, as well as the safety of the crew onboard.

As part of this, Walsh has undertaken intensive training and assessments both at the lifeboat station and at the RNLI's lifeboat college in Poole, Dorset.

Following the success of his final assessment, Walsh can now be responsible for taking command of the lifeboat and ensuring volunteers remain safe while afloat.

“I really enjoyed the training, it was a really beneficial experience and it gave me new found confidence in my role as a volunteer crew member and now as helm,” he says.

During his training and assessment, Walsh was supported by the rest of the volunteer crew and now fellow helms based in Union Hall.

John Kelleher, lifeboat operations manager at Union Hall RNLI says: “All of us at Union Hall RNLI are delighted that Sean’s hard work and commitment to his training and the RNLI has paid off and he has achieved the status of RNLI helm. Welcome aboard Sean Walsh as helm at Union Hall.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Youghal RNLI responded to a distress call from local lifeguards on Wednesday, July 10, at 5:16 pm, regarding three paddleboarders in difficulty approximately 500m off Youghal front strand beach. The weather conditions were described as choppy with a strong north-westerly breeze.

Helm Jack Nolan and crew members Liam Keogh, Joe O'Connor, and Noel Joyce launched the inshore lifeboat and arrived at the scene within 10 minutes. Upon arrival, the crew found one male in the water holding onto a paddleboard with two younger males sitting on top. Additionally, two lifeguards on surfboards were also present with the casualties.

The volunteer crew brought the three casualties and the two lifeguards onboard the lifeboat and headed towards the shore, where they dropped off the lifeguards and the older male. They then proceeded to Youghal lifeboat station, where the other two males were handed over to the National Ambulance Service for treatment.

John Innes, Youghal RNLI Launch Authority, emphasised the importance of being fully prepared for water activities, especially as the weather becomes warmer. He expressed gratitude to all the agencies involved in the rescue and urged people to call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard in case of difficulty or to report others in trouble.

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Clifden RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew in western Connemara were tasked just after 11am on Sunday morning (7 July) by the Irish Coast Guard to assist a casualty on the island of Inishbofin.

The Shannon class all-weather lifeboat St Christopher was launched under coxswain James Mullen, with John Mullen, Alan Kearney and Andy Bell as crew.

Arriving at the island, the lifeboat crew made their way to the casualty and carried out a comprehensive casualty care assessment on the individual.

The person was then transported to the airstrip on the island and handed over to the coastguard’s Dublin-based helicopter Rescue 116 for further treatment in hospital.

Having completed the operation, the all-weather lifeboat crew joined with Clifden’s Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat crew and 40 other boats who were escorting the late John Burke from Cleggan Pier to his final resting place on Inishbofin.

Speaking about the call-out, Mullen said: “My thanks to all involved in today’s shout, as always we had great cooperation and assistance from the community in Inishbofin, and I also wish the casualty a swift recovery.

“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.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Bundoran RNLI’s lifeboat volunteers were called on Sunday afternoon (7 July) to aid a RIB in difficulty after suffering engine failure near Mullaghmore in Co Sligo.

The 5.5-metre craft, with one person on board, was in danger of drifting close to the rocks.

Within minutes, the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat William Henry Liddington, with helm Elliot Kearns and crew members Killian O'Kelly, Richard Gillespie and Mark Vaughan, launched and were quickly on the scene, where they observed that the casualty was wearing a lifejacket and had all the correct gear with him.

After assessing the situation, the lifeboat crew deemed an alongside tow was essential to preserve safety to shipping and they proceeded to bring the casualty safely back to the nearby Mullaghmore.

Volunteer lifeboat helm Elliot Kearns said: “When planning a trip to sea, preparation is key, and we would always advise boaters to have basic safety equipment on board and always have a means to call for assistance when required.”

The RNLI advises that if you are planning a trip on the water, tell someone else where you’re going and when you’ll be back. This means that they can raise the alarm with the coastguard by calling 999 or 112 if you are overdue.

File image of Fethard RNLI’s inshore lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/FethardFile image of Fethard RNLI’s inshore lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Fethard

Elsewhere, the volunteer lifeboat crew at Fethard RNLI were requested by the coastguard to launch their inshore lifeboat on Thursday evening (4 July) following a report that two kayaks were in difficulty off Hook Head.

There was a strong Force 5 south-westerly wind and choppy sea conditions when vigilant members of the public raised the alarm concerned for the welfare of the kayakers heading west below Hook Lighthouse.

The lifeboat, helmed by John Colfer and with crew members Peter Mullen and Nadia Blanchfield onboard, launched at Slade Harbour and made its way to Hook Head, beginning to search the coastline.

The inshore lifeboat, with the assistance of the Waterford-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117, eventually found the two kayakers on Baginbun Beach after they had successfully navigated their way there.

It emerged that these very experienced seafarers were navigating their way around the Irish coast and were well equipped with food, means of hydration and communications equipment.

Speaking after the call-out, volunteer helm John Colfer said: “It was great to find the two kayakers safe and sound, drinking tea! They were very well equipped and very experienced. They advised us that they will let the coastguard know their future movements to avoid another call-out.”

Colfer added: “We were glad to find these lads well, but we would like to thank the members of the public who made the call. It is better to err on the side of caution. If you do get into difficulty or see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Aran Islands RNLI carried out a medical evacuation on Saturday after a cyclist fell.

The volunteer crew had assembled at the lifeboat station for a routine training exercise at 12 noon on Saturday (6 July) when a cyclist fell off their bike nearby.

The casualty was seen by a doctor and then stretchered onto the lifeboat with the assistance of Aran Fire and Rescue.

The lifeboat launched under Coxswain Aonghus O Hiarnain, with four crew members onboard, and went to Rossaveel. Weather conditions were good at the time, with clear skies, moderate seas, and a north-westerly force five wind.

On arrival, the lifeboat crew proceeded to hand the casualty into the care of a waiting ambulance crew.

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Kilmore Quay RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat was launched Saturday afternoon (July 6) to assist two people aboard a 32-foot yacht with engine failure close to the Saltee Islands.

The Coast Guard requested that the all-weather Tamar class lifeboat, Killarney, launch at 2.37 pm on Saturday. The lifeboat was under the command of Coxswain Eugene Kehoe with five crew members on board and it arrived on scene just north of the Great Saltee island at 3:00pm. Sea conditions at the time were described as moderate with a two-metre swell and were not suitable for the yacht to return to the harbour under sail. Having checked that all on board were safe and well, it was decided that the safest course of action was establishing a tow to bring the yacht back to the nearby harbour. With the tow established the lifeboat made its way back to Kilmore Quay, arriving at 3.30 pm.

The Kilmore Quay RNLI lifeboat crew involved in the call-out were coxswain Eugene Kehoe, mechanic Philip Walsh and crew members Nigel Kehoe, Adam Kelly, Michelle Devereux, and Robbie Connolly.

The call-out came on a weekend when members of the crew also attended a commemoration service at the Memorial Garden in Kilmore Quay to mark the 100th anniversary of the loss of the SS Lismore six miles off the coast between Kilmore Quay and Hook Head on 11 July 1924. As Afloat reported, one survivor made it to shore 28 hours after the vessel went down and raised the alarm. Despite extensive searches by lifeboat crews and coast guards at the time, none of the remaining 18 crew on board were ever found.

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Helm Aidan O'Connor has reached a similar milestone in this year's 200th anniversary of the RNLI. Not 200 years, but his 200th 'shout' on the Crosshaven Lifeboat. He is the first to attain that particular honour at the Cork Harbour station.

Aidan has been at the helm for 24 years, from the station's inception in 2000. 

Sunday (July 7) evening's 'Shout' started with a request from Valentia Coast Guard to the volunteer crew at 7.20 pm to a 24' motor boat with engine problems on the Curlane Bank. The only person onboard deployed his anchor before requesting assistance from the Coast Guard.

The crew made good progress in calm conditions to the position before boarding the vessel. The crew assessed the situation before establishing a tow to the owner's mooring at Drake's Pool on the Owenabue River.

The lifeboat crew consisted of Aidan O'Connor, Ian Venner, David Venner, and Conor Barry. The Shore Crew were Moira Kavanagh, Denise Marionne, Hugh Mockler, Alan Venner, James Fegan and Susanne Deane. Hugh Tully was the Launch Authority. 

The lifeboat returned to the station at 8.55 pm, was recovered, washed down and refuelled before being declared ready for service at 9.30 pm.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Two days after Kinsale RNLI launched to the aid of two sailors after their 34ft yacht lost steering, the West Cork lifeboat rescued a lone sailor who was drifting off the Old Head of Kinsale on Monday (1 July).

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat at 7.41pm on Monday evening at the request of the Irish Coast Guard.

It took 12 minutes for the lifeboat — helmed by Jonathon Connor and with crew members Ian Fitzgerald, Eoin Keyes and Gareth John onboard — to arrive on the scene to the 30ft yacht with one person onboard.

Weather conditions were described as blustery with a north-westerly wind, Force 4 to 5, but good visibility.

As the sailor was unable to make safe progress from their position due to a mechanical issue with the yacht, it was decided to secure a tow and bring the vessel to the nearest safe port at Kinsale Harbour, where everyone arrived back safely at 8.20pm.

Speaking following the call-out, lifeboat helm Jonathon Connor commended the sailor for wearing their lifejacket and carrying a means of communication to call for help.

“We would like to remind people to always check the weather forecast as well as the swell forecast especially along the coast. Check the wind strength as it can cause rapid changes in weather.

“Like this sailor, wear a lifejacket or personal floatation device suitable for the activity you are taking part in and carry a means of communication that you can access quickly. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

More recently, on Friday morning (5 July), Kinsale RNLI was requested to launch its inshore lifeboat at 8.20am following a report from the Irish Coast Guard that two swimmers were missing between Dock Beach and Sandycove.

One of a group of swimmers had raised the alarm when two people were reported overdue. It prompted a multi-agency response, and the lifeboat crew had commenced a shoreline search when an update came through that both swimmers had made it back to shore unaided. The lifeboat was stood down at 8.49am.

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Lough Derg RNLI were requested to launch on Monday afternoon (1 July) to assist a person on a 27ft cruiser that had suffered engine failure.

The casualty vessel was reported to be at anchor at Curraghmore Point, a location north east of Illaunmore.

At 1.50pm, the inshore lifeboat Jean Spier launched with helm Eleanor Hooker, crew Joe O’Donoghue, Chris Parker and James Corballis on board.

Weather conditions had a north-westerly Force 3 to 4 wind and good visibility.

At 2pm the lifeboat had the casualty vessel in sight, at anchor close to shore at the location given. Using local knowledge and onboard navigation tools, the lifeboat steered a safe course to the cruiser.

Once alongside, an RNLI volunteer transferred across to the casualty vessel. The person on board was safe and unharmed and wearing their lifejacket. The vessel’s anchor was holding firm.

Given the isolated location, the fact that the skipper was alone and the diagnosis of engine failure, the lifeboat helm made the decision to take the vessel under an astern tow to the nearest safe haven at Dromineer Harbour.

At 2.10pm, with an RNLI volunteer remaining on board with the skipper, the lifeboat had the vessel under an astern tow.

As the lifeboat approached the Urra Channel, the helm asked crew to make radio contact with the sailing coaches at Lough Derg Yacht Club to make them aware that the lifeboat had a vessel under tow and to request the junior sailing fleets keep a clear passage through Dromineer Bay.

Once through the Urra Channel and in Dromineer bay, the helm requested the crew to change the tow to an alongside tow to maintain maximum control in the crowded bay.

The casualty vessel was safely tied alongside in Dromineer Harbour at 3.24pm. The lifeboat departed the scene and was back at station at 3.30pm.

Peter Kennedy, launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI advises boat users to “make sure your engine is serviced before you set out and that you carry a reliable means of communication”.

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The volunteer crew of Arranmore RNLI were asked to assist in a medical evacuation from the island by the Malin Head Coast Guard at 8am on Sunday (30 June).

The first responders of the Arranmore ambulance delivered the patient to Leabgarrow pier and the patient was then transferred to the lifeboat.

On arrival at Burtonport, the patient was transferred to a waiting ambulance and then on to Letterkenny University Hospital for assessment.

Relief coxswain Sean Curtin and crew members, mechanic Philip McCauley, Sharon O’Donnell, Sean O’Donnell, Finbar Gallagher, Mickey McHugh and Seán Gallagher returned to anchor at Arranmore.

Curtin, from Valentia Island, is a regional resilience coxswain/mechanic with the RNLI and is involved in travelling to various RNLI stations in Ireland and further afield to fill in for local crews who are on leave. This is his fourth time with the Arranmore RNLI.

Speaking following the call-out, Curtin said: “We would like to wish the patient a speedy recovery and thank the volunteer crew for responding so quickly to the call.

“I would also like to commend them on their efficiency and knowledge of the area which made my job very easy. They are a credit to the RNLI, as are the first responders of the ambulance. The volunteer ethic is very strong on Arranmore island and I’m delighted to work alongside them once again.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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