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RNLI Lifeguards Return to Causeway Coast and Co Down Beaches for Peak Summer Period

28th June 2024
The Co Down lifeguard team who will provide a daily patrol on Tyrella, Murlough and Cranfield beaches
The Co Down lifeguard team who will provide a daily patrol on Tyrella, Murlough and Cranfield beaches Credit: RNLI/Michael Jess

RNLI lifeguards are returning to their full-time regime patrolling a total of 11 Northern Ireland beaches along the Causeway Coast and in Co Down.

The charity along with the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, the National Trust and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council have been preparing in recent months to get ready for another busy summer season.

From this Saturday 29 June to Sunday 1 September, lifeguards will be providing a daily patrol from 10am-6pm on Benone, Downhill, Castlerock, Portstewart Strand, Portrush West, Portrush East, Whiterocks and Ballycastle beaches on the Causeway Coast, and from 10am to 6pm on Tyrella, Murlough and Cranfield beaches on the County Down coast.

Last year, the RNLI lifeguards in Northern Ireland saved four lives, aided over 300 people, and responded to over 189 incidents and amassed a total of 225,159 preventative actions.

Each year the RNLI rolls out a lifeguard service which involves several different elements, including recruiting and training lifeguards and organising the logistics to deliver equipment and in some cases lifeguard units to each beach.

Before a lifeguard starts their duties on a beach, they undergo several months of training. This includes passing various tough fitness tests and learning essential first aid skills for casualty care. It requires significant effort, dedication and commitment to be able to save lives at the beach.

In addition to rescuing people in the water, RNLI lifeguards manage lost children, provide minor first aid for cuts and stings, handle major first aid situations like fractures and critical illnesses and offer safety advice to beachgoers to help them have a safe and enjoyable day at the beach.

Michael Thompson, RNLI regional lifeguard lead said: “We are all thrilled about beginning the summer season, our lifeguards have undergone excellent training over the past few weeks, preparing them for their duties on the beaches.

“We are eager to provide beach safety advice to visitors and applying our skills and training throughout the summer wherever necessary. We also want to remind the public that this is our first season in which all our lifeguard beaches both on the Causeway Coast and in Co Down will be operating between 10am-6pm.”

The RNLI encourages everyone visiting the coast this summer to follow beach safety guidelines to ensure the safety of themselves and their families:

  • Visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags.
  • Check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage to understand local risks.
  • For activities like paddle boarding or kayaking, it’s recommended to wear a wetsuit, buoyancy aid or lifejacket and carry a means of calling for help in a waterproof pouch and keep it on you. Tell someone what you are doing, where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • If you are going open water swimming, use a wetsuit to keep you warm, wear a bright coloured swim hat and take a tow float to store personal items including a phone for emergencies.
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, Float to Live: fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and float.
  • In an emergency dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.

Find your nearest lifeguarded beach in Northern Ireland at 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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