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Wexford's Latest Lifeboat Named In Special Ceremony

27th September 2015
Yvonne Shields names the Alfred William Newman
Commissioners of Irish Lights' Yvonne Shields names the Alfred William Newman in Wexford on Saturday 26 September Credit: RNLI/John Michael Murphy

#RNLI - At a special ceremony held yesterday (Saturday 26 September), Wexford RNLI officially named its new D class lifeboat, Alfred William Newman, at its lifeboat station in the town, adjacent to Wexford Bridge and the Quays.

As previously reported on, the lifeboat, which went on service on the 25 June this year, was funded by the late Alfred William Newman from Birmingham who, through a bequest in his will, provided the D class lifeboat to enable crews to continue Wexford RNLI’s lifesaving service.

Welcoming guests at the ceremony Wexford RNLI lifeboat operations manager Nick Bowie said the naming ceremony and service of dedication was a special occasion in the history of the Wexford lifeboat station.

He also welcomed members of the Booth family, who funded Wexford RNLI’s last lifeboat in memory of their beloved son and brother Philip. During its time on service, the Philip Robert Booth launched 112 times, saved eight lives and rescued 86 people.

The honour of naming the new lifeboat went to Yvonne Shields, chief executive at the Commissioners of Irish Lights, an organisation which has for many years enjoyed strong links with the RNLI.

Speaking at the event, she said Irish Lights had a deep admiration for the RNLI and the wonderful work the charity did around the coast.

"It is a remarkable organisation powered by a remarkable network of volunteers, who together are hugely dedicated and committed to the safety of all. At Irish Lights our role is also focused safety at sea through the provision of aids to navigation to ensure safety passage for all.

"We regard ourselves and the RNLI as part of the same family of organisations dedicated to the safety and wellbeing of mariners around the coast and indeed there are many Irish Lights people directly involved in the RNLI. This close and heartfelt relationship between our two organisations is why I was delighted to be asked to participate in today’s ceremony."

RNLI Irish Council member Niamh McCutcheon accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the RNLI before handing her over into the care of Wexford Lifeboat Station.

McCutcheon said the demand for the lifeboat service showed no sign of slowing down. "Here in Wexford over the past five years, the volunteer lifeboat crew have launched on average 11 times each year, rescuing a total of 47 people," she said.

"That is an incredible achievement, and I would like to pay a particular tribute to every crew member, shore crew, station manager and fundraiser who has made every one of those launches possible. Each and every one of you had a vital role in that rescue."

Since the new lifeboat went on service in Wexford there have been six callouts and many training exercises.

Accepting the new lifeboat, Bowie said: "Part of my job is to authorise her launch when requested. Through the Irish Coast Guard I have the volunteers paged, asking them to get down to the station as quick as possible and prepare for a launch.

"When they arrive, and get kitted up, and head out to sea, I’ll have peace of mind because I know this lifeboat will help to keep them safe, as they save others. So, on behalf of all the station volunteers, I would like to thank the donors and their family. Your generosity has given Wexford Town a lifesaver."

A crowd of well-wishers turned up to see the lifeboat officially named, with a bottle of champagne poured over the side of the boat before it launched at the end of the ceremony for a demonstration.

Also among the platform party were Cllr Ger Carty, Mayor of Wexford, who opened proceedings; Owen Medland, RNLI divisional operations manager, who described the lifeboat and her capabilities during the ceremony; Jack Higginbotham, lifeboat boathouse manager, who delivered the vote of thanks; and Sophie Gulliver, daughter of volunteer crew member Simon Gulliver.

Father Aodhan Marken and Canon Arthur Minion lead the Service of Dedication, with music provided by the Wexford Male Voice Choir.

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.

© Afloat 2020

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