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Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI Rescues Swimmer in Difficulty at the 40 Foot Bathing Area on Dublin Bay

16th October 2023
Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI inshore lifeboat Joval launches to the swimmer in difficulty
Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI inshore lifeboat Joval launches to the swimmer in difficulty Credit: RNLI

Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI rescued a swimmer who got into difficulty at The Forty Foot bathing area yesterday (Sunday 15 October). The volunteer crew were requested to assist the swimmer after she got caught in a current and was drifting close to a rocky outcrop.

The crew were alerted at 2.05 pm by the Irish Coast Guard that a casualty was struggling to swim ashore, being pulled by the current and drifting around the back of the 40 Foot and out of sight. Their swimming partner had made it ashore moments earlier to call 999 and ask for the Coast Guard. The inshore lifeboat Joval was launched within five minutes, helmed by Andrew Sykes, with volunteer crew members Gary Hayes and Ailbhe Smith aboard, and made best speed to reach the scene by 2.14pm.

Weather conditions were calm at the time with rippled water, however, sea temperatures were considerably lower than those recently.

Some quick-thinking bystanders threw a life ring to a group of kayakers in the water who threw the ring onwards to the swimmer to keep her afloat until the lifeboat arrived. The crew rescued the swimmer from the sea and brought her ashore to safety and into the care of waiting Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard unit, where, although very cold and tired with minor cuts and scrapes from the rocks, she did not require medical attention.

Speaking following the call out, Dun Laoghaire RNLI helm Andrew Sykes said: ‘It was fortunate that the life ring was in position on shore, and we would like to wish the casualty well and commend her partner and the bystanders for raising the alarm and responding safely.

‘We would encourage swimmers to never go alone and to always make sure that their activity is monitored by a colleague. Consider wearing a bright-coloured swim cap and carrying a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch. Conditions can change in a very short time, so we all need to be aware of potential risks and be well prepared before entering the water. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 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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