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Carrybridge RNLI’s volunteers were called by Belfast Coastguard on Saturday afternoon (18 May) to assess a 6m vessel with one person on board which had run aground some two miles upstream from the lifeboat station on Upper Lough Erne in Northern Ireland.

Winds were southerly Force 3 with excellent visibility as the inshore lifeboat Douglas Euan & Kay Richards proceeded to the vessel’s last known location, and on arrival found it holding on its anchor.

The lifeboat crew assessed the wellbeing of the casualty on board and found them to be safe and well.

Upon assessing the casualty vessel, the volunteer crew found that it had lost all means of propulsion.

The helm deemed the safest option would be for the lifeboat and its crew to set up a tow, with the owner’s permission, and bring it back to the safest public jetty at Carrybridge, to avoid other craft going into the shallows to assist.

One crew member from the lifeboat was placed on board the casualty vessel to assist and the casualty vessel was swiftly towed to safety.

Speaking following the call-out, Stephen Scott, lifeboat operations manager at Carrybridge RNLI had advice for all boat users.

“Before setting out on your journey, please plan your route and carry out regular checks of their vessels position throughout your journey,” he said. “Have a means of calling for assistance if you find yourself in trouble, have lifejackets for all on board and plan their journey using the relevant charts.

“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.”

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Galway RNLI lifeboat volunteer Olivia Byrne has been recognised for her exceptional service as a finalist for the prestigious Captain Dara Fitzpatrick Award. The award, which acknowledges the vital work of first responders and the significant role of women in the emergency services, honours individuals who exemplify compassion, bravery, leadership, and professionalism.

Olivia was selected as one of five finalists from a pool of candidates across Ireland. The award ceremony, hosted by the Irish Paramedicine Education and Research Network and the Fitzpatrick family, took place at the University of Limerick. The award pays homage to the legacy of Dara Fitzpatrick, an Irish Coast Guard Search and Rescue pilot, by celebrating inspirational women working in the Irish pre-hospital community and emergency services.

Olivia Byrne, a nurse, midwife, and public health nurse, has also volunteered with the Galway Lifeboat crew for over two decades. Nominated for the award by the station’s Lifeboat Operations Manager Mike Swan, Olivia's dedication and contributions to the team have been invaluable. Over the years, she has been involved in numerous rescues and has brought her nursing skills to the search and rescue role, benefiting both the crew and those they rescue.

Speaking about her recognition, Olivia expressed her gratitude, saying, "It is a great privilege for me to be included in this group of highly trained women." She also commended the other finalists for their outstanding leadership in their respective emergency service specialties.

‘The other finalists for the award are outstanding leaders in their emergency service specialties and the worthy winner of the Capt. Dara Fitzpatrick Award 2024 was Pte Nicole Carroll who is a Defence Forces Combat Medical Technician. I was delighted to be a finalist and to share the experience of the award ceremony with an incredible group of women.’

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Lifeboat crew at Fethard RNLI sprang into action yesterday afternoon following a distress call from the Irish Coast Guard. The call, received at 4:30 pm on Sunday, May 19, requested assistance for a family pet that had fallen from a cliff.

The crew found a Jack Russel terrier that had fallen 30-40 feet onto a bed of seaweed. Fortunately, two local kayakers had spotted the dog in distress and raised the alarm, prompting the lifeboat crew to respond.

Crew member Nadia Blanchfield bravely made her way to the small beach at Poles Bay, where she successfully recovered the dog and brought her on board the inshore lifeboat. The full crew, including Helm James Barry and Paddy O'Regan, ensured the safe return of the dog. The rescue took place under sunny, calm conditions with a light easterly breeze.

Pat Wallace, Volunteer Deputy Launch Authority, emphasised the importance of keeping pets on a lead near cliffs and water's edges. He also advised pet owners to have a means to call for help in case of emergencies and warned against attempting risky rescues.

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The Clogherhead RNLI Lifeboat station celebrated its 125th-anniversary last weekend with perfect weather, as the sun shone in a deep blue sky and the wind remained non-existent.

The festivities kicked off on Saturday, 18th May, with a group of enthusiastic swimmers taking part in a 125th Celebration Dip at 'The Little Strand' in Clogherhead. Prior to their dip, the swimmers and Clogherhead RNLI volunteers formed a human 1-2-5 on the beach, captured for posterity by a drone.

The main event took place on Sunday, drawing a large crowd to the lifeboat station for an afternoon of commemoration, celebration, music, and laughter. The event featured a short ecumenical service conducted by religious leaders, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony in remembrance of past volunteers and casualties. The afternoon was filled with entertainment from various musical acts and activities such as a sandcastle competition, face-painting, and a raffle.

The boathouse also housed a historical exhibition detailing the lifeboats that have served at the station over the years. The event was a memorable occasion, thanks to the hard work of the Clogherhead RNLI volunteers who organised and supervised the celebration. 

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As the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, more than 40 rescue vessels, including both current and historical RNLI lifeboats as well as international boats, have come together to form a flotilla more than a mile long today (19 May).

The flotilla, which closed the two-day event held in Poole, Dorset, in the UK consisted of more than 20 historic RNLI lifeboats, the current lifeboat fleet including the most modern 25-knot lifeboat, the Shannon class, alongside current inshore lifeboats and the RNLI inshore rescue hovercraft.

The rowing lifeboat, the William Riley which went on active service in 1909 taking part in the flotilla Photo: Nathan WilliamsThe rowing lifeboat, the William Riley which went on active service in 1909 taking part in the flotilla Photo: Nathan Williams

International lifeboats were welcomed as part of the two-day event having travelled from France, Netherlands, Germany and Sweden. The oldest rescue craft taking part was a Swedish rowing lifeboat from 1868.

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As the RNLI commemorates the charity’s 200 years of lifesaving this year, Lough Derg RNLI celebrates 20 years of service on the lake.

Last Sunday afternoon (12 May), volunteers past and present at the Lough Derg lifeboat station gathered with their families and RNLI staff members at Lough Derg Yacht Club to celebrate the milestone.

Christine O’Malley, lifeboat operations manager at Lough Derg RNLI and MC for the event welcomed everyone, especially those who’d travelled long distances to join the celebration.

Christine, a retired consultant geriatrician, talked about taking on the role of LOM five years earlier, and the “steep learning curve” as she absorbed the responsibilities involved, met the challenges and celebrated the rewards.

She then introduced Niamh McCutcheon, chair of the Lough Derg fundraising committee and an RNLI vice-president.

Niamh — who had been fundraising locally for the RNLI for decades before the lifeboat was stationed on Lough Derg — praised the tireless work of the fundraising committee who, in tandem with the volunteer crews, have raised awareness of and donations to the RNLI, thus facilitating the charity’s goals to save every one.

She also spoke of her pride in the seeing volunteers from Lough Derg RNLI at the Service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey in March.

Christine invited Niamh Stephenson, RNLI communications lead for Ireland, to speak next. Over the years Niamh and her colleague Nuala McAloon, RNLI regional communications manager for Ireland, have made themselves available to offer sage advice and guidance to the station’s lifeboat press officer on all media related matters.

Lough Derg RNLI’s inshore lifeboat Jean Spicer launched from the lifeboat station | Credit: RNLI/Eleanor HookerLough Derg RNLI’s inshore lifeboat Jean Spicer launched from the lifeboat station | Credit: RNLI/Eleanor Hooker

Niamh recalled her first stopover at Lough Derg RNLI — almost 20 year ago — and the warm welcome she received, including the daunting mountain of food volunteers had cooked for her visit.

Niamh spoke about the essential role of media and the bridge it forged between the activities of the lifeboat station and the public. She spoke of how media communications inspired support for the charity and attracted new volunteers to the crew and fundraising, as well as amplifying water safety messages for a new generation.

To thank past volunteers for their continued support, Christine invited area lifesaving manager Lisa Hollingum to speak and to present former crew with RNLI200 badges. Lisa commended the volunteers at Lough Derg RNLI for their dedication and commitment to maintaining the RNLIs high standard in all they do, and she looked forward to visiting the station again soon.

Liam Maloney, launching authority and former LOM at Lough Derg RNLI; Dr Peter Hooker, lifeboat medical advisor; and Eleanor Hooker, volunteer helm and lifeboat press officer had asked that Helena Duggan, RNLI assessor/trainer at Lough Derg RNLI from 2003 until 2022, present them with their 20-year Long Service Medals.

Helena recalled her early visits to the new lifeboat station at Lough Derg with her colleagues, the late Michael Carmody and Derek Potter, and the enthusiasm from volunteers as the station became established.

In a philosophical consideration of time, Helena stressed that the RNLI hugely appreciates the hours volunteers put into training, exercises and shouts, and that “every second you give to the RNLI is precious time, your time, and is never taken for granted”.

She made special mention too of the sacrifices and allowances families make so that volunteers may volunteer. Helena described the vast network of people, volunteers and staff, who work as a team to make the RNLI the organisation it is today.

The crew were honoured that current assessor/trainer Seán Ginnelly would travel all the way from Achill to join the celebrations.

Cutting the cake at last Sunday’s celebration at Lough Derg Yacht Club | Credit: RNLICutting the cake at last Sunday’s celebration at Lough Derg Yacht Club | Credit: RNLI

After receiving his medal from Helena, Liam Maloney gave a moving history of the origins of the RNLI lifeboat station on the lake. He acknowledged the successful proposal made to the RNLI by Teddy Knight and Charles Stanley Smith.

Carrig Primary School, where Liam was headmaster, provided a venue for new volunteers to have shore training in the year before the lifeboat went live for service on 24 April 2004. He smiled as he told us he taught many of past and current volunteers in the room. Liam recollected previous callouts, his anxiety for crew out in testing conditions and one in particular on a St Stephen’s Day morning that thankfully had a positive outcome.

Eleanor Hooker thanked Aoife Kennedy, lifeboat station administrator and launching authority and her sister Doireann Kennedy, volunteer crew, for organising the entire event, including having volunteers bake and cook for the reception to follow the speeches.

Eleanor recollected earlier times with former volunteers and the collegiate spirit among all at the station. She spoke of the mutual trust and teamwork — essential ingredients at a lifeboat station.

Eleanor welcomed James Corballis, an RNLI volunteer who has moved to the area from Galway RNLI, to the station. She congratulated Laura Clarke, chair of the Lap the Lake fundraising Committee on the incredible success of the RNLI charity cycle the previous day.

On receiving his Long Service Medal, consultant anaesthesist Dr Peter Hooker joked that “normally people fell asleep after a few minutes of my talking to them”, and so promised he would keep his words brief. He said it was an honour to be a part of the Lough Derg RNLI team and wanted, especially to thank Helena for her years of teaching and care and friendship at the station.

Christine thanked all present and invited the assembly to move upstairs to enjoy an afternoon tea.

“It was lovely to see so many people who have supported the lifeboat station over the years, whether on the water, off the water, through fundraising or the RNLI support team,” she said. “These are the people who helped make the Lifeboat Station into the excellent service we have today.

“It was great to acknowledge the remarkable 20 years of commitment to the station from Liam Maloney, Eleanor Hooker and Peter Hooker with Long Service Awards from the RNLI. A huge thank you to all our volunteers, past and present, and to their families, who have all given so much to create and sustain this lifesaving service on Lough Derg.”

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The Port of Cork Company in partnership with the RNLI hosted over 100 secondary and primary school students at the port in Ringaskiddy on Wednesday (15 May) for a “Student Safe” water safety event to promote heightened awareness of water safety practices.

The key purpose of this RNLI “Student Safe” event was to inform and educate students on vital water safety information to help prepare them when engaging in water-related activities ahead of the summer season.

Since the first RNLI lifeboat station in Ireland was established in 1826, the charity has saved an estimated 8,357 lives at sea and aided a further 35,477 people.

As emergency water rescue operations often consist of a multi-agency approach, representatives from the National Ambulance Service, Community First Responders and the Irish Coast Guard were also in attendance and offered student groups the opportunity to engage on a one-to-one basis, ask questions and receive potentially lifesaving information.

This water safety event formed part of a larger collaboration between the Port of Cork and RNLI aimed at promoting essential life-saving water safety practices.

Earlier this year, promotional materials containing water safety tips were posted and erected within the main Ferry Terminal building at the port in Ringaskiddy, which welcomed 116,000 ferry passengers passing through in 2023.

Conor Mowlds, chief commercial officer at the Port of Cork Company praised the event: “It is incredibly important that young people are equipped with the correct knowledge and skills should they encounter difficulties on the water. Events such as this help to broaden water safety awareness to help mitigate emergency and life-threatening incidents.”

Mowlds added: “The Port of Cork is actively committed to working with the RNLI and other emergency service partners to promote water safety practices that create a safe environment for the local community and visitors in the Cork Harbour area.”

Linda-Gene Byrne, RNLI regional water safety lead said: “The RNLI saves lives at sea. But beyond the work we do on our lifeboats, we’re an active part of the community too.

“We are delighted to partner with other emergency services and the Port of Cork to deliver this community based event which enables local students to receive key safety messages.
“We would like to thank the Port of Cork for providing us the space and their support for this Student Safe event and all the schools for attending with their students. All the partners here today are so appreciative to have a space to work together to keep our communities safe.

“If any other schools would like to receive water safety talks that teach the young people in your classroom or group how to stay safe in, on and around the water we’re here to help.”

Two local schools, Coláiste Muire Réalt na Mara Crosshaven and Ringaskiddy Lower Harbour NS, attended the event at Ringaskiddy.

Published in Port of Cork
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The volunteer crew of Wicklow RNLI responded to two consecutive distress calls last Thursday (May 9th). The first call came in just before 1pm, reporting that two kayakers had capsized in the River Vartry, which flows into Wicklow Harbour. The inshore lifeboat, helmed by Paul Sillery, wasted no time and swiftly reached the scene.

On arrival, the crew found one casualty safe ashore while the other remained in the water. The crew promptly retrieved the second casualty and brought them to safety, also recovering the capsized kayak.

The second call, received just before 3 pm, summoned the crew to aid a 37ft motor vessel experiencing steering difficulties. The all-weather lifeboat, the Joanna and Henry Williams, was launched to assist the distressed vessel, located five miles northeast of Wicklow Harbour. After establishing contact with the skipper, it was determined that the vessel could make its way to the harbour, with the lifeboat crew providing an escort. Once at the harbour, the lifeboat facilitated a safe alongside tow to manoeuvre the vessel alongside the pier

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Galway RNLI’s volunteer crew were requested to launch by the Irish Coast Guard shortly before 4pm on Friday afternoon (10 May) following a call by a member of the public reporting four people on Hare Island cut off by the tide.

The lifeboat crew who responded to the call were David Badger, Olivia Byrne, Dave McGrath and James Corballis, the latter on his last call-out with Galway RNLI before leaving saltwater behind for the fresh lake water of Lough Derg.

Launching their Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat within 10 minutes, the crew made their way from the lifeboat station to Hare Island where they carried out a full search of the island, without finding the four people reported stranded.

The crew then received confirmation from the coastguard that the four people had made it back to the mainland safely, which involved swimming the last stretch to the shore.

James Corballis, who was on his last shout with Galway RNLI on Friday 10 May before moving to Lough Derg RNLI | Credit: RNLI/Aoife MorrissyJames Corballis, who was on his last shout with Galway RNLI on Friday 10 May before moving to Lough Derg RNLI | Credit: RNLI/Aoife Morrissy

Lifeboat helm David Badger said: “In the event that you find yourself cut off by an incoming tide on Hare Island or any other coastal walk, our advice is to stay put and stay high and dry and not to attempt to make it to shore. Call 112 or 999 and ask for the coastguard.

“Conditions today were good with flat calm water and good visibility, but things can change very quickly by the water. If you are heading out on the water or planning a walk by the sea, always take a means to call for help and check the tides before you set off. Tide times and heights vary throughout the month and can easily catch you out if you haven’t checked them.

“There was a good outcome today and that is the main thing. And it was a fine afternoon for the last shout for our crew mate James who is leaving Galway RNLI and moving inland to join the Lough Derg RNLI crew. Hopefully his lasting memory of Galway will be in the warm sunshine to make up for the years of cold, rainy days and nights at sea.”

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A three-month-old baby was among a family of six rescued by Clifden RNLI in western Connemara on Thursday evening (9 May).

The volunteer crew were tasked by the Irish Coast Guard at 6.15pm to assist a group who were cut off by the tide on Omey Island.

Clifden’s Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat was launched by volunteer helm Kenny Flaherty with Daniel Whelan, David O’Reilly and Shane Conneely as crew.

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

The family — which included grandparents, a baby, two young children and their dog — were found to be well and did not require medical assistance.

They were returned to the shore at Claddaghduff where Cleggan Coast Guard and additional lifeboat crew provided further assistance and ensured the family got back to their accommodation safely.

Speaking after the shout, Clifden RNLI helm Kenny Flaherty 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.”

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