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Courtmacsherry Lifeboat Joins Major Search Off the Old Head of Kinsale

6th May 2022
Courtmacsherry’s lifeboat crew on the late-night callout
Courtmacsherry’s lifeboat crew on the late-night callout Credit: RNLI/Courtmacsherry

Courtmacsherry RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat Frederick Storey Cockburn was called out at 10.15pm on Wednesday night (4 May) to join a search off Garrettstown and Garrylucas beaches near the Old Head of Kinsale in West Cork.

Members of the public noticed a person swimming alone offshore, and an item of clothing was located at the beach some time later.

The lifeboat, with a crew of five under coxswain Mark Gannon, was underway within minutes and proceeded in the dark of night to the area of the search.

The lifeboat reached the area within 15 minutes and commenced a detailed search of the waters and coastline alongside the Kinsale RNLI inshore lifeboat and the Old Head/Seven Heads Coast Guard unit. The search was joined later by the Irish Coast Guard’s Waterford-based helicopter Rescue 117.

A thorough search was undertaken using the powerful search lights, night vision and parachute flares from the lifeboat and the heat detection sensors of the helicopter, while the coastguard unit on the water combed the shoreline at Garrettstown and Garrylucas.

At 12.30am, when nothing was located and gardaí had carried out detailed enquiries ashore, the Valentia Coast Guard Marine Co-Ordination Centre called off the search and the lifeboat and the other rescue services returned to their bases.

Brian O’Dwyer, Courtmacsherry RNLI’s lifeboat operations manager said: “It was great to see the fast response of so many of our voluntary crew tonight when their bleepers activated which ensured that we were at the scene very quickly.

“It is so important to call the rescue services at 112 or 999 quickly once any incident like this occurs as the various rescue services are always at the ready 24 hours a day and great credit is due to the concerned people that raised the alarm last night.”

The Courtmacsherry volunteer lifeboat crew involved in this call out were Coxswain Mark Gannon, duty mechanic Dave Philips and crew members Ken Cashman, Peter Nunan, Denis Murphy, Evin O’Sullivan and Dean Hennessey.

Helvick Head RNLI's Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Aoife DuffyHelvick Head RNLI's Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Aoife Duffy

Elsewhere on the same night, Helvick Head RNLI in neighbouring Co Waterford was requested to launch its inshore lifeboat following a report that a swimmer was in difficulty in Dungarvan Harbour.

With calm waters and little to no wind, the volunteer crew launched following the request by the Irish Coast Guard at 9.02pm. It followed a report that a swimmer was in difficulty between the Lookout in Dungarvan Harbour and Cunnigar Point.

The lifeboat, helmed by Alan Kelly and with crew members Joe Foley, Shane Walsh and Paidi Breathnach onboard, made its way to the scene. However, the lifeboat was shortly stood down as it transpired the swimmer wasn’t in difficulty and had reached the shore successfully.

Speaking later, Helvick Head RNLI deputy launching authority Sean Walsh said: “This callout turned out to be a false alarm with good intent but we would commend the person who raised the alarm as we would always much rather launch and find that all is safe and well, than not launch at all.

“On the first official week of summer, we would like to remind people if they are planning on going in the water that Dungarvan Harbour is renowned for its rip currents and can catch even the most experienced swimmers out. If you’re caught in a rip, stay calm, don’t panic. Don’t swim against it but rather parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then make for shore.

“We would also like to remind visitors and people new to our shores that the RNLI has a range of translated safety messages and advice in many languages which are available to download.

“If you do get into difficulty or see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

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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