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Two New Volunteer Lifeboat Crew at Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI

13th December 2021
Dun Laoghaire RNLI: (L-R) Aidan Sliney and Ailbhe Smith Credit: Dun Laoghaire RNLI

With over 1,500 volunteers around Ireland, each RNLI crew member signs up to save every one from drowning – the charity’s mission since 1824. This Christmas Dun Laoghaire RNLI has a number of new volunteer lifeboat crew who are currently undergoing training to be able to save those in trouble at sea and who will form part of the team of lifesavers at the south Dublin lifeboat station. Corkman Aidan Sliney and Ballinteer native Ailbhe Smith are no strangers to the sea and are among a host of recent recruits to join lifeboat crews in Ireland during the pandemic. The two new volunteer lifeboat crew are asking the public to support the RNLI this Christmas.

While new to Dun Laoghaire RNLI, Aidan Sliney is no stranger to the world of lifeboating. In Ballycotton the name Sliney is famous in lifeboat circles as his great grandfather and grandfather were involved in one of the most famous rescues in the history of the RNLI, the Daunt Rock rescue in February 1936. Aidan’s father was also on the lifeboat for many years and his brother, well known comic book artist Will Sliney, is on the Ballycotton lifeboat crew today. Work took Aidan abroad to Stockholm and Manhattan for a few years and he recently moved back to Dublin with his wife and their young child. In joining Dun Laoghaire RNLI, Aidan has gone back to basic training to refresh his skills on the lifeboat and is currently training on the station’s D-class lifeboat.

Commenting on his decision to join the lifeboat crew in Dun Laoghaire Aidan said, ‘I’m delighted that I am able to put my lifeboating experience to good use in Dublin and be a volunteer with Dun Laoghaire RNLI. We have the same All-Weather lifeboat in Ballycotton but now I’m getting to grips with the station’s inshore lifeboat, which carries out a lot of the close to shore rescues. This is a busy lifeboat station with an amazing crew and I’m learning new skills and working with a new team but it’s the same wherever you go in the RNLI.

‘Everyone is passionate about what they do and wants to help people in trouble on the water. The training is outstanding and I’m happily starting at the beginning and getting familiar with it again, you can’t take anything for granted. We’ve had a couple of new starters at the station, and we are helping each other through the training. We all have different backgrounds which means we are also learning from each other. The current lifeboat crew have been hugely generous with their time helping us skill up.’

Ailbhe Smith was raised in Ballinteer but moved to Dun Laoghaire during the pandemic. A hugely experienced Mermaid Sailor, Ailbhe competitively raced the traditional wooden ‘Mermaid’ boats for years. Some years ago, when she was in Sligo, she witnessed the local lifeboat crew rescue a diver and once she moved to Dun Laoghaire, Ailbhe messaged the lifeboat station about the possibility of volunteering and was welcomed aboard.

Adding her support to the RNLI Christmas Appeal Ailbhe commented, ‘When I saw the RNLI rescue a diver at Rosses Point in Sligo some years ago, I knew I’d love to do that, and I sort of filed it away for later. You have to live near the lifeboat station to be able to make a ‘shout’ and then a few years later I found myself living in Dun Laoghaire and it seemed like fate. I love the sea and my years sailing have given me a healthy respect for the power of it. It has been a little bit surreal to join up during a time of restrictions but that hasn’t stopped us as there is a lot to learn. We are always looking to get out on the lifeboat and train and with Dun Laoghaire being such a busy lifeboat station, I’m eager to put my training into practice and to help people.’

‘When the pager goes, no lifeboat volunteer hesitates to answer the call, and these rescues would not be possible without the donations from the RNLI's generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training equipment needed by Lifeboat crews all year round. Thank you to everyone who supports the appeal this Christmas.’

To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal visit: RNLI.org/Xmas

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Afloat.ie 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.

© Afloat 2020

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