Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Galway Harbour RNLI Volunteers Respond to Three Callouts in One Evening

10th August 2023
Galway Harbour RNLI's volunteer crew operating in Galway Bay
Galway Harbour RNLI's volunteer crew operating in Galway Bay

Galway Harbour RNLI's volunteer crew responded to three separate calls for assistance in a single evening on Wednesday (09 August), demonstrating their readiness to deal with any situation that arises.

The first callout came at around 5.30 pm when the crew was requested by the Irish Coast Guard to launch following reports of a swimmer in difficulty off Salthill. The lifeboat, manned by crew members Dave Badger, Shane Austin, Gregg Cullen, and Brian Niland, was quickly launched and made its way to the area where the swimmer was last seen. The crew joined the search alongside the Irish Coast Guard Rescue 115 helicopter and a local cargo boat, which had been en route to Galway Docks. Fortunately, the swimmer was located and had made it safely to shore, and the search was stood down.

Shortly before 9 pm, the lifeboat was called out again, this time to assist a 30-foot fishing boat which had run aground near Cockle Rock, Renville. The lifeboat, manned by crew members Dave Badger, James Rattigan, David McGrath, and Ian Claxton, established a tow line and managed to get the fishing boat off the rocks before releasing it to return to harbour under its own steam.

While still in the vicinity of Renville, the lifeboat crew came to the assistance of a 21-foot half-decker fishing boat with one person on board which had lost steering and was unable to manoeuvre. The lifeboat towed the boat to its mooring buoy at Renville and brought the person safely ashore.

Dave Badger, who was Helm on board the lifeboat for all three rescues, praised the work of the shore crew who provided support back at the station, including Brian Niland, Mike Cummins, Seán McLoughlin, Aaron O’Reilly, and Seán Óg Leydon. He stressed the importance of having a means of calling for help and urged anyone who gets into difficulty or sees someone in difficulty in the water to dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard. 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.


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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