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RNLI Takes Part in Easter 1916 Centenary Commemoration

27th March 2016
RNLI parade past the GPO as part of the 1916 Rising Commemorations in Dublin RNLI parade past the GPO as part of the 1916 Rising Commemorations in Dublin Credit: RNLI/Tony Roddam

RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew from across Ireland took part in today’s Easter 1916 centenary commemoration which saw over seven hundred members of the Irish emergency services taking part in the biggest parade in the history of the state. The fifty RNLI volunteers came from twenty-nine lifeboat stations around the Irish coast and inland to parade through Dublin City Centre to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising in 1916. The RNLI formed part of the emergency services section of the parade which recognised the ‘blue-light’ agencies serving the Irish state since its foundation.

The RNLI contingent was accompanied by a new Atlantic 85 lifeboat, which following its debut in the parade, will be transported to Youghal in Cork to go on operational service, and two RNLI landrovers used in the launching of inshore lifeboats.

The parade was preceded by a short ceremony which included a reading of the 1916 Proclamation and the President of Ireland Michael D Higgins laying a wreath on behalf of the people of Ireland, followed by a minute’s silence observed for all those who died during the Rising.

The parade involved over 3,000 participants, largely from the Irish Defence Forces with 793 people from the emergency services. Represented along with the RNLI were An Garda Siochána, Dublin Fire Brigade, the National Ambulance Service, St John Ambulance, Irish Coast Guard and the Civil Defence.

Commenting on the commemoration RNLI Operations Manager Owen Medland said, ‘It is a huge honour for the RNLI to take part in this historic event. It is an acknowledgement of the role our volunteers have played in saving lives at sea and on inland waters in Ireland since the RNLI was established in Ireland in 1826. The lifeboat service has been given without any interruption historically and has always put the needs of those in danger on the water above all.

Our volunteers come from all communities and backgrounds and the RNLI is proud of the role Irish volunteers have played in saving countless lives and continue to play today and into the future.’

Many of the volunteers taking part had relatives who were involved in the events of 1916 and the following years. Clifden RNLI volunteer lifeboat Coxswain Alan Pryce is the grand-nephew of Thomas Whelan of Clifden Co. Galway, one of the ‘Forgotten Ten’, who was executed in Mountjoy Prison during the War of Independence in 1921.

Clogherhead RNLI Volunteer Shore Crew member Carolyn Stanley is the grand-niece of Joe Stanley who was Pádraig Pearse’s press agent and printer. During the Easter Rising Pádraig Pearse relied on his young press agent, Joe Stanley, to convert his hand written communiques into printed documents for onward circulation throughout the city. It was Joe Stanley who published the First Documents of the newly proclaimed republic.

Fethard on Sea RNLI volunteer Deputy Launching Authority and former lifeboat helm Hugh Burke is the nephew of John Fenlon. Following the 1916 rising in Enniscorty John was arrested and locked up in Wexford jail from where he escaped and remained on the run for seven years.

Lifeboat stations represented at the Easter 1916 parade were Achill, Wexford, Arklow, Lough Ree, Howth, Baltimore, Donaghadee, Dun Laoghaire, Dun Laoghaire, Kilmore Quay, Wicklow, Ballyglass, Clifden, Courtmacsherry, Clogherhead, Dunmore East, Bundoran, Helvick Head, Kinsale, Crosshaven, Portaferry, Youghal, Lough Swilly, Kilrush, Fethard, Red Bay, Union Hall, Skerries and Sligo.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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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