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Ballyglass RNLI’s New Inshore D Class Lifeboat Named 'Clann Lir'

14th October 2018
The Clann Lir was blessed in a service of dedication The Clann Lir was blessed in a service of dedication Photo: Thomas Reilly

At a special naming ceremony and service of dedication held yesterday (Saturday 13 October), Ballyglass RNLI officially named its new D class lifeboat, Clann Lir, in the Mayo coastal town.

The honour of naming the lifeboat went to Derek Moran, Secretary General of the Department of Finance, with the help of Sophie Reilly from Belmullet National School, winner of a competition to choose the name of the new lifeboat.

The lifeboat which went on service earlier this year was funded by a donation from the Central Bank of Ireland.

The Central Bank, on behalf of the Department of Finance, issues several commemorative coin products every year to mark different historical events, figures and to promote Irish arts and heritage. 

The Central Bank had scheduled the launch of its 2017 Annual Mint Set, which paid tribute to the vital work carried out by the Irish Coast Guard and Irish Lighthouses for March 2017. However, the launch was postponed following the tragic loss of the crew of Rescue 116 on 14 March 2017.

Following the tragedy the Minister for Finance agreed that the proceeds from the sale of the Annual Mint Set 2017 be donated to a nominated charity. The RNLI was selected as the main beneficiary of this donation as its work closely aligns with the work of the Irish Coast Guard and the Commissioners of Irish Lights. 

Almost 4,900 Annual Mint sets were sold up to the end of January this year and a donation of just over €74,000 was made to the RNLI. The proceeds have been used to fund the new lifesaving vessel which is stationed at Ballyglass, with the remainder going towards lifeboat kit equipment and crew training.

During the naming ceremony, Eddie Diver, Ballyglass RNLI Fundraising Chairman, accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the charity, from Gerry Quinn, Chief Operations Officer of the Central Bank, before handing her over into the care of Ballyglass Inshore Lifeboat Station.

Having accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the volunteer crew, Lifeboat Operations Manager Padraic Sheeran in his address paid tribute to all involved at the station: ‘I thank Eddie for handing us this new D Class lifeboat, and the Central Bank of Ireland for donating it to us. Thanks to everyone here today and to our great supporters of the station. And last but not least a huge thank you to the volunteer crew and fundraising committee - as Lifeboat Operations Manager it’s a pleasure to work with you all.’

The Clann Lir was blessed in a service of dedication led by Father Kevin Hegarty before the lifeboat was officially named by Derek Moran.

The new inshore lifeboat replaces The Western which launched 58 times while on service in Ballyglass coming to the aid of 20 people. Clann Lir will now serve alongside Ballyglass RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat Bryan and Gordon which has launched 153 times since going on service in Ballyglass, with her crews coming to the aid of 153 people, 14 of whom were lives saved. 

The name of the new lifeboat is one close to the heart of those in the Belmullet community and was chosen by Sophie Reilly, a pupil at Belmullet National School.

Pupils in the school were given the task of nominating a suitable name for the lifeboat that had to be Irish with either a nautical or community theme. Three names were shortlisted by the volunteers in Ballyglass RNLI before the station’s volunteers picked a fitting winner, Clann Lir.

Clann Lir or The Children of Lir, is an Irish legend that tells the story of Lir and his four children. Bodb Dearg, king of the Tuatha De Danann and rival of Lir, gave his daughter Aeb to Lir, in order to appease him. Lir and Aeb had four children: one girl, Fionnuala, and three sons: Aed and twins Fiachra and Conn. Aeb died and Bodb Dearg sent another of his daughters, Aoife, to marry Lir.

Aiofe was jealous of the children's love for their father and for this reason she decided to kill them but did not have the courage; instead using her magic she changed the children into swans. They were condemned to wander for 900 years over certain lakes and rivers in Ireland.

The children had to spend 300 years on Lough Derravaragh, 300 years in the Sea of Moyle and their last 300 years as swans at Sruwaddacon Bay near Erris in County Mayo, before flying to Inishglora, an island off the coast of the Belmullet Peninsula.

Here they met a monk who baptised them. Instantly they had back their human shapes but because of their very old age they died immediately. They were buried on the island in the one grave.

The RNLI formally established a lifeboat station in Ballyglass in 1989 and today the volunteers work from two stations that are home to an all-weather lifeboat, Bryan and Gordon, and the new inshore lifeboat. 

The D class lifeboat has been the workhouse of the RNLI’s lifesaving service for nearly 50 years. It is inflatable but robust; highly manoeuvrable and capable of operating much closer to shore than all-weather lifeboats. It is specifically suited to surf, shallow water and confined locations, often close to cliffs, among rocks or even in caves.

First introduced to the fleet in 1963, the design of the D class has continued to evolve since its introduction and the latest version was introduced in 2003. As with all D class lifeboats, the Clann Lir has a single 50hp outboard engine and can be righted manually by the crew after a capsize. Onboard equipment includes both fitted and hand-held VHF radios, night-vision equipment, and first aid kit, including oxygen. 

The 5m lifeboat is landrover launched and has a 25-knot maximum speed. It can carry up to three lifeboat crew and five survivors.

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 at the end of the ceremony.

Among the guests on the platform party were Michael Cosgrove, fundraising secretary who welcomed guests and opened proceedings, Gerry Quinn, Chief Operations Officer of the Central Bank of Ireland who handed over the lifeboat, Eddie Diver, Ballyglass Fundraising Chairman who accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the RNLI and handed it over into the care of Ballyglass Lifeboat Station, Padraic Sheeran, Ballyglass RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, Derek Moran, Secretary General of the Department of Finance who named the lifeboat, and Sophie Reilly, winner of the competition to pick the name of the lifeboat.

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.

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