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Achill Island RNLI Welcomes Ciaran Needham as New Lifeboat Operations Manager

10th September 2021
Ciaran Needham, a native of Sáile is Achill Island RNLI station’s new Lifeboat Operations Manager
Ciaran Needham, a native of Sáile is Achill Island RNLI station’s new Lifeboat Operations Manager

Achill Island RNLI is delighted to welcome Ciaran Needham, a native of Sáile as the station’s new Lifeboat Operations Manager. Ciaran succeeds Tony McNamara, who recently retired from the role.

Ciaran is an electrician by trade and is also a member of Achill GAA where he trains regularly with his club mates. While Ciaran loves all things GAA, he is also an avid surfer, and it is his passion for surfing that has instilled a deep respect in him for the sea and how it can change in an instant.

Having lived in Sydney, Australia, for 10 years where he worked as an electrician and spent a lot of time surfing, Ciaran returned home to Achill Island two years ago, where he now lives with his partner, Mary Ellen Daly. While in Sydney, Ciaran was aware of the full-time lifeguards that patrolled Sydney’s sprawling beaches as he surfed. Back at home, he has always appreciated the role of the lifeboat and the unique volunteer nature of the RNLI, a charity reliant on the generous donations from the public.

Talking about why he joined Achill Island RNLI as Lifeboat Operations Manager, Ciaran said: ‘I’ve been involved with the sea for my whole life and knowing that there is a volunteer lifeboat crew always ready and willing to come to the assistance of anyone who needs it has always meant so much to me. It made sense to volunteer with Achill Island RNLI when this role became available, with the realisation that I could have been a potential casualty many times in the past, or indeed, at some stage in the future.’

As the Lifeboat Operations Manager, Ciaran is responsible for operational activities at the lifeboat station, authorising the launch of the lifeboat and the day-to-day management of the station.

When speaking about his vision for the lifeboat station in the years ahead, Ciaran said that he was looking forward to welcoming new members to Achill Island RNLI. Describing this as a new chapter for the station, he said: ‘I would like to welcome Martin Reilly as an additional Deputy Launching Authority and Eilish Power as our new Lifeboat Press Officer and I look forward to working with them in their new roles. I’m also looking forward to welcoming new lifeboat crew to the station and our new team will benefit from the experience that already exists in Marie Kilbane as Deputy Launching Authority, Dave Curtis as Coxswain and Michael Cattigan as mechanic, as well as all the existing volunteer crew.’

Ciaran reflected on the challenges presented by Covid restrictions over the past 18 months. Regular meetings with the crew, welcoming the public for open days and essential fundraising activities have all been interrupted and missed, but Ciaran looks forward to activities at the station beginning to return to normal. When speaking about what he admires most about the RNLI, Ciaran said: ‘It’s that volunteer aspect; that has to be admired above all else. The amount of training that our crew participate in, their commitment and dedication, it’s immense. And it wouldn’t be possible without the tireless work and effort by our always enthusiastic and hugely devoted fundraising branch.’

Meanwhile, Rob King, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager, welcomed Ciaran and wished him well in his new role: ‘I would like to thank Ciaran for accepting the role of Lifeboat Operations Manager with Achill Island RNLI and I very much look forward to supporting him and the Achill team.’

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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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