Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Portrush Lifeboats Kept Busy As Summer Arrives On North Coast

27th July 2014
Portrush Lifeboats Kept Busy As Summer Arrives On North Coast

#RNLI - Summer certainly hit Ireland's North Coast with a bang this week as temperatures topped 27 degrees, and the volunteer crew of Portrush RNLI experienced one of their busiest weeks.

On Monday 21 July, the all-weather lifeboat William Gordon Burr was launched to a motor cruiser at Lough Foyle that had run foul of a chain of lobster pots.

The crew deployed the Y boat off the lifeboat to try to free the ropes from the propeller. The mission was successfully accomplished and the cruiser sailed off to Greencastle to get checked out.

Next out was the inshore lifeboat David Roulston (Civil Service No 52), which had two callouts on Wednesday 23 July, the first around 11am to a small boat who got into difficulty at Dunluce Castle.

Luckily for the boat, a local fisherman arrived on scene at the same time as the lifeboat and towed the boat to Portballintrae.

The next callout was at 9pm, and again another local boat assisted with the small boat who had got into difficulty.

On Thursday morning at 5am, the crew of the all-weather lifeboat were paged once again. This time it was a callout to Ballycastle to assist with the search of a young person who was reported missing.

The coastguard helicopter was deployed and they soon located the young female who was successfully airlifted to hospital.

"So far this has been one of our busiest seasons as we have experienced an unprecedented good summer so our volunteer crew have been kept working," said Judy Nelson, volunteer lifeboat press officer for Portrush RNLI.

"We love to see people coming to Portrush to take advantage of everything the North Coast has to offer, but would ask people to exercise caution when on the beach.

"The RNLI Lifeguards are on patrol on all the beaches and are delighted to offer advice to visitors about safe bathing. The RNLI website will also give all the advice you need, whether it is about swimming, kayaking, surfing or boating."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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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.


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.

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