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Lough Ree Lifeboat Goes Live in County Westmeath Thanks to RNLI

2nd July 2012
Lough Ree Lifeboat Goes Live in County Westmeath Thanks to RNLI

#RNLI – The RNLI's 44th lifeboat station in Ireland has officially been put on service and become a declared search and rescue asset on Lough Ree. The new lifeboat station is based at Coosan Point in Athlone, County Westmeath.

The RNLI will operate a B class Atlantic 75 lifeboat from temporary station facilities with the cost of the set-up estimated to be around €150,000. The station's lifeboat Dorothy Mary has come from the existing RNLI relief fleet and was previously on service in Red Bay, County Antrim and Kinsale in Cork. Following a year long trial period the RNLI will then make a decision on establishing a permanent lifeboat station.

Following meetings last year a team of volunteers was selected to operate the station and crew the lifeboat.  There has been an intensive period of training for the volunteer lifeboat crew, which has included months of training on the Lough and visits to the RNLI training college in Poole.

There are currently eighteen volunteer lifeboat crew including six helms.  Their backgrounds range from a bouncer, marine engineer, a fireman, a postman to a printer.  There are also three members of the Herraghty family involved with sisters Oona and Niamh joining their brother Donie on the crew.

Lifeboat Operations Manager Damien Delaney is very proud of the new station, which he and other local people had been active in securing for the area.  He commented, "This is a great day for everyone involved in the setting up of this station. For years the people of the town of Athlone and the surrounding counties of Westmeath, Longford and Roscommon have supported the RNLI with street collections and various fundraising events.  Even though we did not have a station on Lough Ree we knew how important it was to have the lifeboat service in Ireland.

The late Sean Fitzsimmons started things rolling many years ago with myself and Vincent Rafter then taking up the challenge.  We received great support and encouragement from everyone involved with the RNLI at both Swords and Poole. To see this group of young volunteers coming together and training with the lifeboat and now going on service is a very proud day for me."

Representations were made back in 2010 to the RNLI by the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland with support from various statutory bodies including the Irish CoastGuard, for a declared search and rescue asset to be present on the lake.

The Lough is approximately eighteen miles long and six miles at its widest point.  It is a popular spot for visitors including anglers, rowers, pleasure cruisers, swimmers and sailors.

Tristan Murphy RNLI Deputy Divisional Inspector for Ireland added,  "On behalf of the RNLI I wish everyone involved at the new lifeboat station in Lough Ree every success.  From the initial meeting right through to the start day, the enthusiasm has been overwhelming.  I am delighted that Lough Ree now has its own lifeboat.

I would also like to thank everyone involved in getting the lifeboat station ready for service. Special thanks must also be given to Westmeath County Council who provided the site for the lifeboat station and Lough Ree Yacht Club for allowing us to use their facilities for crew training."

As previously reported on Afloat.ie the station has already had its first callout involving a barge becoming grounded on rocks. One person was assisted and brought to safety.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Afloat.ie Team

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Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in Ireland Information

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity to save lives at sea in the waters of UK and Ireland. Funded principally by legacies and donations, the RNLI operates a fleet of lifeboats, crewed by volunteers, based at a range of coastal and inland waters stations. Working closely with UK and Ireland Coastguards, RNLI crews are available to launch at short notice to assist people and vessels in difficulties.

RNLI was founded in 1824 and is based in Poole, Dorset. The organisation raised €210m in funds in 2019, spending €200m on lifesaving activities and water safety education. RNLI also provides a beach lifeguard service in the UK and has recently developed an International drowning prevention strategy, partnering with other organisations and governments to make drowning prevention a global priority.

Irish Lifeboat Stations

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with an operational base in Swords, Co Dublin. Irish RNLI crews are tasked through a paging system instigated by the Irish Coast Guard which can task a range of rescue resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

Famous Irish Lifeboat Rescues

Irish Lifeboats have participated in many rescues, perhaps the most famous of which was the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship off Cork Harbour by the Ballycotton lifeboat in 1936. Spending almost 50 hours at sea, the lifeboat stood by the drifting lightship until the proximity to the Daunt Rock forced the coxswain to get alongside and successfully rescue the lightship's crew.

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895.

FAQs

While the number of callouts to lifeboat stations varies from year to year, Howth Lifeboat station has aggregated more 'shouts' in recent years than other stations, averaging just over 60 a year.

Stations with an offshore lifeboat have a full-time mechanic, while some have a full-time coxswain. However, most lifeboat crews are volunteers.

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895

In 2019, 8,941 lifeboat launches saved 342 lives across the RNLI fleet.

The Irish fleet is a mixture of inshore and all-weather (offshore) craft. The offshore lifeboats, which range from 17m to 12m in length are either moored afloat, launched down a slipway or are towed into the sea on a trailer and launched. The inshore boats are either rigid or non-rigid inflatables.

The Irish Coast Guard in the Republic of Ireland or the UK Coastguard in Northern Ireland task lifeboats when an emergency call is received, through any of the recognised systems. These include 999/112 phone calls, Mayday/PanPan calls on VHF, a signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or distress signals.

The Irish Coast Guard is the government agency responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue operations. To carry out their task the Coast Guard calls on their own resources – Coast Guard units manned by volunteers and contracted helicopters, as well as "declared resources" - RNLI lifeboats and crews. While lifeboats conduct the operation, the coordination is provided by the Coast Guard.

A lifeboat coxswain (pronounced cox'n) is the skipper or master of the lifeboat.

RNLI Lifeboat crews are required to follow a particular development plan that covers a pre-agreed range of skills necessary to complete particular tasks. These skills and tasks form part of the competence-based training that is delivered both locally and at the RNLI's Lifeboat College in Poole, Dorset

 

While the RNLI is dependent on donations and legacies for funding, they also need volunteer crew and fund-raisers.

© Afloat 2020

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