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#RNLI - Comedian, radio host and TV personality PJ Gallagher is to hold a night of fun and laughter with some of Ireland’s top comedians to raise funds for the RNLI.

The one-off event is being staged at Dun Laoghaire’s Pavilion Theatre on Sunday 4 March, where PJ will be joined by friends Deirdre O’Kane, Eric Lalor, Joanne McNally and more.

Funds raised on the night will go to help the charity with their work in saving lives at sea and prevention.

PJ became aware of the work of the RNLI in Dun Laoghaire when he was passing the station and lifeboat mechanic Kieran ‘Colley’ O’Connell invited him in to look around.

The pair struck up a friendship, and PJ has been a regular visitor at the station since then. When he heard about he work of the RNLI he made up his mind to do an event to raise funds.

Speaking about his decision to hold the comedy night and to ask some of his famous friends to support it, PJ said: “I live near the lifeboat station and was aware of the work of the RNLI but it was only when I met Colley that I really learned what it was all about. These men and women are volunteers and they leave their jobs and lives to come and help those in trouble at sea.

“We have a big beautiful lifeboat on view in Dun Laoghaire Harbour but when it’s gone, sometimes in the middle of the night, that’s when they are doing their amazing work. I asked some friends if they’d help with a fundraiser and they jumped at the chance. In fairness, you never know when this lot might need rescuing.”

Kieran added: “We are really thrilled that PJ and his friends are holding this night for us. We get a lot of visitors into the station and they are always delighted to hear about the work we do and you hope it stays with them but PJ has stayed in contact and become a firm friend of the station.

“I just hope he knows what he is letting himself in for as most of the crew will be attending and if their pagers go off there could be a lot of people running for the doors suddenly. I hope they won’t take it personally.”

The gig is selling fast, with only a small number of tickets remaining. Tickets are priced at €24 and are available from the box office directly at www.paviliontheatre.ie or 01 231 2929.

Night at the Oskars

Elsewhere, members of Clogherhead RNLI have been overwhelmed with the local support for ‘The Night at the Oskars’, a special night being staged to raise funds for the station’s new Shannon class lifeboat due in 2019.

Taking place on Saturday 3 March at the TLT in Drogheda, the evening will see local people star in seven short films recreating some of the most well-known and successful blockbusters over the last few years.

The red-carpet event is formal or black-tie dress and tickets are priced at €30.

Last June Clogherhead RNLI launched a €150,000 fundraising appeal at the Drogheada Maritime Festival towards the cost of the new Shannon Lifeboat, which is expected to total some €2.5 million.

The majority of the funding will be provided through an Irish legacy, and Clogherhead RNLI and affiliated branches in Meath and Monahan are making a commitment to raise €150,000 towards the cost of the project through a community appeal.

Tickets can be obtained at the Clogherhead Lifeboat Station each Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 2pm until 3 March or through phoning Tomas on 086 809 4690.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The 50th anniversary of the St.Phelim Aer Lingus tragedy in which the 4 crew and 57 passengers all died is to be commemorated at Rosslare on Saturday, March 24 next. There will be a wreath laying ceremony at the crash site with a Naval Vessel, the RNLI, Irish Lights, Irish Coastguard and other agencies present. A number of relatives will be taken to the site by the Navy for the ceremony. This will be followed by a Memorial Ceremony at Rosslare Harbour Memorial Park, writes Tom MacSweeney.

The tragedy occurred on March 24, 1968.

Aer Lingus flight EI 712 had left from Cork Airport at 10:32 a.m. on a direct service to Heathrow Airport, London and was cleared to fly at to FL170 (17,000 feet). The crew sent out a radio message at the Bannow reporting point at 10:57 local time stating they were at FL170.. They were instructed to change frequency to London Airways. Just eight seconds after first reporting to London Air Traffic Control a broken message was received which was later interpreted as ”Twelve thousand feet descending spinning rapidly. “The Viscount plane descended and struck the sea 1.7 nautical miles from Tuskar Rock. After the loss of contact, Air Traffic Control requested that Aer Lingus flight EI 362 which was heading to Bristol from Dublin to divert to an area west of the Strumble to see if they could spot anything on the water. They descended to 500 feet but nothing was seen.

ROSSLARE MEMORIAL STONERosslare memorial stone

At 11:25 a.m. a full alert was sounded. HMS Hardy, a Royal Navy Type 14 Frigate was the first ship to reach the possible crash area but found nothing.

It wasn’t until the search resumed on the following day that floating debris was sighted and over the next few days a total of fourteen bodies were recovered. The main wreckage was detected on the seabed by a trawler at a depth of 39 fathoms (234 feet/71.3 metres), 1.7 miles from Tuskar Rock.

Sean Boyce of the Rosslare Maritime Museum and the organising committee said:
“It is our hope to have as many of the relatives as possible in attendance. There will be a commemorative display which we are happy to open to the families.”

PLANNED PROGRAMME OF COMMEMORATION

10:40 a.m. Boarding the Naval Vessel
11:00 a.m. Naval vessel/Flotilla departs to the Tuskar site.
11:45 a.m. Wreath Laying Ceremony on Site.
12:45 a.m. Arrive back at Rosslare Harbour – Bus back to Hotel Rosslare.
13:00 a.m. Lunch – Hotel Rosslare
2:30 a.m. Flag ceremony –Raising of flags/half-mast/Irish/ Belgian/Swiss /UK/US
2:40 p.m. Ecumenical Service
3:00 p.m. Wreath laying ceremony / unveiling.
3:20 p.m. Speeches.
3:45 p.m. Raising of the flags, Reveille. National Anthem.
4:00 p.m. End of cermonies

For more information the Facebook St.Phelim Air Crash 50th Commemoration Page here

Published in Rescue

The East Cork village from where the lifeboat station crew carried out what is regarded as the most famous rescue in Irish lifeboat history, to the Daunt Rock Lightship off Cork Harbour, is in need of volunteers for its present-day crew, writes Tom MacSweeney.

That rescue was carried out aboard the historic Mary Stanford lifeboat, now preserved in the village as a commemorative memory of what that crew achieved on February 7, 1936.

Eighty-two years later, on next Monday week, February 19, as Afloat.ie reported here a meeting will be held in the village for all those interested in volunteering to help the lifeboat. The RNLI is looking for lifeboat crew members and volunteer fundraisers.

Mary Creedon, RNLI Community Fundraising Manager, has called on any volunteers who may be interested to “come along to the station on Tuesday, 19 February, at 7.30 p.m. to find out more. We are looking for anyone who is willing to offer some of their free time to join what I believe to be, one of the most exhilarating and rewarding voluntary services that is out there. Every volunteer receives first class training from the RNLI and learns new skills which can benefit them in many walks of life. Lifeboat crew members need to have a reasonable level of fitness, have good eyesight and not be colour blind. We are looking for a range of community lifesaving volunteers - shore crew play an essential role in the launch and recovery of the lifeboat when it goes on service and we need volunteers to help us fundraise and share our safety messages.”

Nineteen-year-old Sile Scanlon is one volunteer who joined the volunteer lifeboat crew after she herself was rescued. Sile explained: ‘A few years ago I was kayaking just off Ballycotton with three friends when the weather deteriorated and we got into difficulty. There was a big swell as a result and we were afraid that are our kayaks might capsize. We raised the alarm and made our way to the lighthouse where Ballycotton RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat came to our assistance.’

Sile is now two years on the lifeboat crew and loves being a volunteer.

“Growing up in Ballycotton I have always had a love for the sea and with my family so involved, the RNLI has always been close to my heart. I always wanted to join the crew but when I was rescued myself, I experienced first-hand the value of the charity’s community lifesaving work. Whether a volunteer is a seagoing crew member or is on the shore helping to prepare the lifeboat for launch or fundraising to make a rescue possible, their contribution really does makes a difference. I find it is also very satisfying to give back to your community and to be part of a great team,” she says.

Anyone who feels they have the time and commitment to volunteer for the charity which is on call 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, is invited to attend the meeting or to email their interest to: [email protected]

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Newcastle RNLI rescued six fishermen in a callout that lasted 12 hours on Monday 5 February.

At 3.10pm, Newcastle’s volunteer crew were alerted to Belfast  Coastguard’s request for a lifeboat to assist a fishing vessel breakdown 15 miles southeast of Newcastle Harbour.

The all-weather Mersey class lifeboat Eleanor and Bryant Girling was launched at 3.20pm and reached the casualty vessel an hour later. Weather conditions at the time were calm but cold with excellent visibility.

Communications were made with the skipper and it was agreed that the best option was for the lifeboat to tow the boat back to the port of Kilkeel.

While the tow got underway at a slow speed of four knots and with 15 miles to go, the estimated time of arrival in Kilkeel was approximately 8.30pm.

However, due to size of the vessel and the tide ebbing, the lifeboat crew were not able to enter the harbour until 1am.

At 12.30am it was decided to launch Kilkeel RNLI’s inshore lifeboat to assist with the manoeuvring of the fishing vessel into the tight harbour entrance. Shortly after 1.20am the vessel was alongside the quay and handed over to Kilkeel Coastguard rescue team.

Speaking following the callout, Newcastle RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer Nathan Leneghan said: “This was the first callout of the year for Newcastle RNLI and we were delighted to help bring the fishing crew to safety.

“This was a long and challenging callout due to the tide and size of the boat but we worked with the conditions and with the support of colleagues from Kilkeel RNLI were able to bring the boat to safety.

“We would remind anyone taking to sea to always respect the water. Check weather and tide times before you leave and always let someone ashore know when you are leaving and when you are due back. Always wear a lifejacket and always carry a means of calling or signalling for help should you get into difficulty.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#GoodDeed: Two cheques were handed over to the RNLI and The Irish Underwater Search and Recovery Unit at a special event at the weekend. The funds were collected through the All in a Row charity event on the Liffey in December. More than 40 boats turned out and the €12,960 which was raised was evenly divided between the two charities.

 The cheques were presented to the deserving causes on Friday in Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club by special guest Sean O’Donoghue, a deep sea diver on the infamous Piper Alpha oil rig which exploded 30 years ago this July. The incident caused the deaths of 167 men. Sean O’Donoghue was involved in the search for and recovery of those men. 

 The organisers of the All in a Row event are very grateful to those who took part and those who donated so generously.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Clogherhead and Skerries  RNLI  rescued a man whose fishing boat got into difficulty north of Dublin Bay yesterday afternoon (Thursday 1 February).

The volunteer crews were requested to launch the all-weather lifeboat from Clogherhead and the inshore lifeboat from Skerries at around 1pm after a request from the Irish Coast Guard to assist the skipper of a 10m fishing vessel, which had got into difficulty four-and-a-half miles northeast of Skerries.

The vessel had lost engine power while on passage from Kilmore Quay to the Shetland Islands.

Skerries RNLI was first on the scene, and after assessing that no one was in immediate danger, they worked with the skipper to take the fishing boat under tow.

With winds from the northwest gusting up to 30 knots at the time and seas up to three metres high, a decision was made due to the weather conditions to transfer the tow line to the Clogherhead all-weather lifeboat.

The fishing vessel was then successfully towed into Skerries Harbour and tied up at 2pm.

Speaking following the callout, Clogherhead RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer Gerry Kelly said it was “a fine example of RNLI volunteers from neighbouring stations working well together to help bring someone to safety.

“We would remind anyone going to sea, regardless of their activity, to always respect the water. Always wear a lifejacket and always carry a means of calling for help and keep it within reach.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Three RNLI lifeboats gathered yesterday (Sunday 28 January) at the site off Northern Ireland where the MV Princess Victoria sank 65 years ago with the loss of 133 souls.

Donaghadee, Larne and Portpatrick RNLI lifeboat crews laid wreaths on behalf of their stations and also on behalf of Newcastle, Bangor and Portaferry RNLI. A wreath was also laid on behalf of Larne Harbour.

The short ceremony at sea was followed by a service at Donaghadee parish church, where over 50 lifeboat volunteers represented the charity along with many people who travelled from across Northern Ireland to mark the anniversary.

Donaghadee lifeboat crew saved 33 of the 44 survivors from the Larne-to-Stranraer ferry that day onboard the lifeboat Sir Samuel Kelly.

Speaking following the ceremony at sea, Donaghadee RNLI coxswain Philip McNamara said: “Today was a very solemn occasion as we remembered all those who were lost, sixty-five years ago this week.

“It was a huge tragedy and affected many families in Northern Ireland and across the water. It’s important to remember the anniversary and to pay our respects.”

McNamara added: “To look out at sea and see three lifeboats from Northern Ireland and Scotland was an incredible sight. After each lifeboat crew dropped their wreaths at the site, a minutes silence was observed to remember those who were lost.

“We in Donaghadee RNLI are very proud of the lifeboat crew who went before us, who arrived on scene that day and rescued 33 survivors in what must have been horrific conditions.”

On 31 January 1953, lifeboats from Donaghadee, Portpatrick and Cloughy were launched and received awards for their bravery.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Renowned Galway singer Sean Keane is set to make a welcome return to Clifden this February for a special evening of song and entertainment dedicated to the lifesaving work of the RNLI.

In the intimate setting of the Church of Ireland in Clifden at 8pm on Saturday 10 February, Sean and friends will launch a new song ‘Heroes of the Waters’ in tribute to those who volunteer to provide lifeboat services at sea.

A limited-edition CD with three tracks will also be on sale on the night for €5 with proceeds going to Clifden RNLI, which saw the naming of its latest lifeboat Celia Mary last October.

Tony Hiney, RNLI community fundraising manager, said: “We are absolutely delighted that a singer of Sean’s stature and popularity has decided to make such a wonderful musical tribute to our lifeboat volunteers.

“We wish to thank him and his team for their support and we look forward to a wonderful evening celebrating our mutual appreciation and support.”

Tickets for Sean Keane’s ‘Heroes of the Waters’ special concert are available from The Station House Hotel and The Celtic Shop, Main St, Clifden.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Helvick Head RNLI had its first callout for 2018 in the early hours of Saturday morning (20 January) when the crew of a fishing vessel reported engine difficulty.

Pagers sounded at 1.50am and volunteer crew Brian O’Rourke, Joe Foley, Shane Walsh and Cathal Reilly launched the inshore lifeboat Robert Armstrong within minutes.

The lifeboat travelled the eight miles to the vessel and a tow was quickly set up. Sea conditions were described as moderate at the time.

The vessel was then towed back to Helvick Harbour, docking safely at just after 5am.

Commenting on the rescue, Helvick Head RNLI lifeboat operations manager John Condon said: “It was great to see the excellent reaction to the call by all the members of the crew.

“Given the time at which the pagers went off, it was fantastic to see the response by all – not only those who went to sea but also by the others who assisted on the shore.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Henry Williams was a renowned Dun Laoghaire lifeboat Coxswain. His son, Alexander, succeeded him and both died in the attempt to rescue the crew of the Palme in Dun Laoghaire Eve, 1895.

That rescue is remembered in an evocative ceremony every Christmas Eve which has become an effective annual national lifeboat commemoration.

One of only two silver medals awarded to Dun Laoghaire for lifeboat actions is that won by Henry Williams, Coxswain of the then Kingstown Lifeboat in 1881 for a rescue in Dublin Bay. It is coming up for auction in Whytes in Dublin on Saturday, February 3, at 11 a.m. and the well-known Dublin historian, author and lecturer, Cormac Lowth, is trying to “save it for Dun Laoghaire.”

MEDALOne of only two silver medals awarded to Dun Laoghaire for lifeboat actions is that won by Henry Williams, Conswain of the then Kingstown Lifeboat in 1881 for a rescue in Dublin Bay. The medal is coming up for auction in Whytes in Dublin on Saturday, February 3, at 11 a.m.

“It would be a shame to see it go elsewhere,” he says and he is hoping some “kind, benevolent person” might buy it for Dun Laoghaire. The value put on it by Whytes is inhe region of €200-€500. It is inscribed on the rim, 'MR. H. WILLIAMS. Voted 1st Dec.1881.'

“It is extremely rare,” says Cormac Lowth. “It is part of the maritime history of Dun Laoghaire.” He has written to Dublin Port, suggesting that it might by buy the medal.

“I’ve tried to raise as much interest as possible, but haven’t had any positive response so far. I don’t know who the vendors are, but it won’t be for lack of effort on my part to save the medal for Dun Laogahire.”

Listen to Cormac Lowth on my Podcast here as he outlines why he hopes the medal will stay in Dun Laoghaire.

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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