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Galway’s John Killeen Becomes Chairman of Irish Lifeboats

1st July 2020
 John Killeen, the newly-elected Chairman of Irish Lifeboats, at his home station on the morning of Wednesday July 1st 2020 John Killeen, the newly-elected Chairman of Irish Lifeboats, at his home station on the morning of Wednesday July 1st 2020 Photo: Pierce Purcell

Dr John Killeen of Galway, noted engineer, businessman, national administrator and sailing enthusiast, has been elected as Chairman of Irish Lifeboats in succession to David Delamer of Howth, with the Galwayman also continuing in his role as a member of the main board of the parent body, the RNLI.

Apart from his significant and varied contribution to sailing administration, which has included Chairing the Committees which oversaw the two visits to Galway of the Volvo Ocean Race, Dr Killeen’s own special sailing project – working with innovative boat-builder Dan Mill in Galway – has been the building of the elegant and successful 70ft fast sailing cruiser Nimmo from scratch, a highly-complex construction operation which has been rewarded with the completion of many successful voyages.

70ft Nimmo newly-launched in Galway Docks, after being built by Dan MillGalway built, Galway sailed – the 70ft Nimmo newly-launched in Galway Docks, after being built by Dan Mill in close co-ordination with innovative owner John Killeen. Photo: Jim Grealish

In addition, Dr Killeen’s special administrative abilities saw him being appointed last year for a second five year term as Chairman of the Marine Institute, Ireland’s highly-regarded oceanographic research and analysis organisation, which is based in impressive premises at the head of Galway Bay, and leads in extensive Atlantic discoveries through research vessels based in Galway Docks.

RV Celtic Explorer is one of the Irish Marine Institute’s Galway-based oceanographic research shipsRV Celtic Explorer is one of the Irish Marine Institute’s Galway-based oceanographic research ships

Originally from Roscommon, John Killen made his mark as an innovative civil engineer, based in Galway and completing many major infrastructural projects, often using techniques and materials which were revolutionary at the time. His personal professional hero is the 19th Century engineer Alexander Nimmo (1783-1832), who did so much to improve the harbours and roads of the west of Ireland, and apart from naming his cruiser in honour of Nimmo, John Killeen also supported the production of the definitive biography of Nimmo by Noel Wilkins, first published in hardback in 2009, and since brought out in paperback in 2016.

Dr John Killeen at the conferring of his Honorary Doctorate at NUIG in 2010 Dr John Killeen at the conferring of his Honorary Doctorate at NUIG in 2010

His remarkable administrative talents have been deployed at local, regional and national level, with his voluntary input ranging from serving as a Flag Officer of Galway Bay Sailing Club (of which he is now an Honorary Member) to his longtime contribution to running the lifeboats, while he also serves as Chairman of five charities and is the active President of the Timoney Leadership Institute, which functions at both national and international levels.

He was popularly acclaimed as an Honorary Freeman of Galway City in 2013, and today his quietly-made yet very effective contribution to Irish life at a national level is widely recognised. John Killeen is the embodiment of the old saying that if you want anything done, and done well, then ask a busy many to do it.

This video of Dr John Killeen discussing the work of the Timoney Leadership Institute tells us much:

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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RNLI Ireland Information

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts.

The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and the Channel Islands.

The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,200 lives.

How many RNLI stations are there in Ireland?

46 stations

The RNLI currently operates from 46 stations in the Republic and Northern Ireland. Different classes of lifeboat are needed for various locations. So RNLI lifeboats are divided into two category types: all-weather and inshore.

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