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Achill Lifeboat Helps Rescue Of Stranded Hill Walkers In Killary Fjord

8th January 2017
Achill RNLI volunteers prepping their XP rescue dinghy Achill RNLI volunteers prepping their XP rescue dinghy Credit: RNLI/Nuala McAloon

#RNLI - Achill RNLI was requested late on Thursday night (5 January) to help locate and rescue two adult male hill walkers who were in distress in the vicinity of Mweelrea mountain in Killary Fjord, Connemara.

The Irish Coast Guard helicopter was unable to operate because of low visibility, so in a joint operation, Achill RNLI, Mayo Mountain Rescue and Westport Coast Guard combined forces to effect a very challenging rescue.

Achill RNLI’s lifeboat crew were able to locate the hill walkers on the steep cliff face near Rossroe Harbour and then deployed their XP boat, a small dinghy, to transfer seven members of the Mayo Mountain Rescue Team to the cliff face in very difficult conditions.

The mountain rescue team was then able to reach the two people and gradually bring them down the 200ft or so of the cliff face, where Achill RNLI’s crew could ferry them to the waiting lifeboat, The Sam and Ada Moody.

In a lengthy operation under low cloud, fog, rain and gusty winds the Achill RNLI crew went between the water and cliff ferrying the mountain rescue team and the hill walkers back to the lifeboat where the casualties were given first aid treatment before transfer to Rossroe Pier.

There they were handed over to the care of Westport Coast Guard, after suffering from hypothermia and exhaustion.

Achill RNLI coxswain Dave Curtis described the condition of the rescued men as “cold, wet and miserable” and the weather conditions as extremely difficult.

Speaking following the callout, Achill RNLI mechanic Stephen McNulty said: “This was a great example of teamwork between the different rescue agencies.

“The voluntary crew of Achill RNLI is always ready for call out and this is where the training and commitment across the team really pays off. A happy ending is what we always hope for and thankfully that was the case last night.”

Of the two men rescued from the cliff face, McNulty said: “They enjoyed a nice cup of soup on board the Achill RNLI lifeboat – I’m sure it seemed like the best soup they had ever tasted!”

After some eight hours, the Achill RNLI crew arrived back at the lifeboat station around 06.30am on Friday morning (6 January).

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.

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.

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