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Aran Islands RNLI Mechanic Johnny Mulkerrin Retires After 35 Years

1st June 2021
Aran Islands RNLI mechanic Johnny Mulkerrin retires after 35 years of helping to save lives at sea
Aran Islands RNLI mechanic Johnny Mulkerrin retires after 35 years of helping to save lives at sea

After 35 years of dedicated service, Aran Islands RNLI mechanic Johnny Mulkerrin retires today.

Johnny is one of Aran Islands RNLI’s longest-serving crew members having first joined the volunteer crew in 1984, as soon as he turned 17. His early passion for the lifeboat came as a child growing up watching his father, John Snr, also an active lifeboat volunteer, respond to his pager and go to the aid of those in difficulty at sea.

Having completed his secondary education on Inis Mór, Johnny went on to do a block laying course and worked in the building trade for a time while continuing to serve as a volunteer crew member on the station’s all-weather lifeboat.

In 1987, he became the emergency mechanic for Aran Islands RNLI and then in 1993 he became the station’s full-time mechanic.

From the Barnett class through to the current all-weather Severn class lifeboat, Johnny has throughout his 35 years with the charity, seen many changes as the technology on the lifeboats advanced bringing huge benefits to the area Aran Islands RNLI covers and the people it serves.

Johnny who has been on over a 1,000 call outs and recently received a 30-year Long Service Award from the RNLI recognising his selflessness, courage and commitment, said it was hard to pick out a stand out rescue. However, his abiding memory will be ‘any call where we brought a person or people home to their families. That was always a good call’.

Paying tribute to Johnny this week, Rob King, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager said: ‘Johnny has made a significant contribution to saving lives at sea off the Aran Islands for more than three decades and we are extremely grateful to him for his dedicated service throughout that time. His job as full-time mechanic ensured the operational effectiveness of the station through the operation, maintenance and repair of the lifeboat and its associated machinery and equipment. As he embarks on a new chapter, we want to thank him and wish him every good health and happiness.’

Michael Hernon, Aran Islands RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager added: ‘Over the years Johnny would have experienced all types of call outs and braved all sorts of weather and challenges at sea to help those in need. All at Aran Islands RNLI would like to wish Johnny the very best for the coming years and thank him for his years of service.’

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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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