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Clifden RNLI Name New Inshore Lifeboat ‘Celia Mary’

22nd October 2017
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Celia Mary’s widower Peter Ross and best friend Rea Hollis joined by local clergy and RNLI staff at the naming ceremony in Clifden yesterday Celia Mary’s widower Peter Ross and best friend Rea Hollis joined by local clergy and RNLI staff at the naming ceremony in Clifden yesterday Photo: RNLI/Catherine Pryce

#RNLI - Clifden RNLI officially named its new D class lifeboat Celia Mary at a special ceremony and service of dedication held yesterday (Saturday 21 October) in the Connemara coastal town.

The honour of handing over the lifeboat and officially naming her went to the donor Peter Ross, husband of the late Celia.

He was accompanied at the ceremony in the Station House Hotel by his family and Celia’s best friend Rea Hollis, who has made a generous donation towards the running costs of Clifden Lifeboat Station.

Celia, who was from East Sussex but was of Irish descent, died three years ago shortly after her 79th birthday. She had always wanted to fund a lifeboat.

A much-loved wife and mother of five children, Celia spent many years living self-sufficiently and keeping cows and sheep. She had a great sense of humour and her kitchen was the focal point of her village.

Her idyllic life came to an end when rheumatoid arthritis took hold. But despite suffering from subsequent ill health, this did not stop her from becoming a respected antiques dealer until what has been described as her indomitable spirit succumbed and she passed away.

During the ceremony, Niamh McCutcheon, a member of the Irish Council of the RNLI, accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the charity from Peter Ross, before handing her over into the care of Clifden Lifeboat Station.

During her address, McCutcheon praised the efforts of all those who supported the work of the station.

“In 2017, Clifden RNLI has been requested to respond to 17 call outs, with a total of 26 launches, bringing 18 people to safety between the three different lifeboats on station here. You cannot put a price on the impact that has on people’s lives, whether they are volunteers or casualties.

“Our lifesavers could not have answered those calls for help without the support they receive from fellow volunteers on the shore: the fundraisers, the launch crew and the station management. In fact the whole of the RNLI depends on those people who represent our charity in the community.”

Lifeboat operations manager John Brittain accepted the lifeboat on behalf of Clifden RNLI ahead of the blessing in a service of dedication led by Father James Ronayne and the Very Reverend Stan Evans. The lifeboat was then officially named by Peter Ross.

Brittain said the event was a special occasion for the lifeboat station, adding that the crew were most grateful to Peter for his generous gift in memory of his wife which had funded the lifeboat.

“Celia always wanted a lifeboat, and now she has one in Clifden,” he said. “While her lifeboat may be a little far from her family, we have been told by her loved ones that Celia, who was of Irish descent, would have revelled in the beauty of Galway, Connemara and the Atlantic coast.”

The D class Celia Mary replaces the Grainne Uaile which served Clifden RNLI for the last 10 years. During that time, the lifeboat launched 62 times, bringing 20 people to safety.

Originally introduced in 1963, the D class has evolved into a highly capable modern lifeboat. It is the workhorse of the RNLI’s fleet and is ideal for working close inshore, near rocks or in shallow water in moderate conditions. It can be righted by the crew if it capsizes and is also part of the RNLI flood rescue team’s fleet of boats.

She comes into her own for searches and rescues in the surf, shallow water and confined locations - often close to cliffs, among rocks and even inside caves.

The RNLI established a lifeboat station in Clifden in early 1988 when a C class lifeboat was put on service for one season’s evaluation. The following year, Clifden RNLI became fully operational as a summer season-only lifeboat station.

In 1997, an Atlantic 21 lifeboat was placed on service and a new boathouse for the lifeboat and a tractor was completed in August 1998. A new D class lifeboat was placed on service in May 1998, and the following year it was joined by a new Atlantic 75 B class lifeboat which remained stationed until June 2013 when it was replaced by the Atlantic 85 named Joyce King.

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.

Among the guests on the platform party were Pearse Hyland, chair of the Lifeboat Management Group, who welcomed guests and opened proceedings, and inshore lifeboat mechanic Andy Bell, who gave a vote of thanks and closed proceedings.

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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