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The Clogherhead RNLI Lifeboat station celebrated its 125th-anniversary last weekend with perfect weather, as the sun shone in a deep blue sky and the wind remained non-existent.

The festivities kicked off on Saturday, 18th May, with a group of enthusiastic swimmers taking part in a 125th Celebration Dip at 'The Little Strand' in Clogherhead. Prior to their dip, the swimmers and Clogherhead RNLI volunteers formed a human 1-2-5 on the beach, captured for posterity by a drone.

The main event took place on Sunday, drawing a large crowd to the lifeboat station for an afternoon of commemoration, celebration, music, and laughter. The event featured a short ecumenical service conducted by religious leaders, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony in remembrance of past volunteers and casualties. The afternoon was filled with entertainment from various musical acts and activities such as a sandcastle competition, face-painting, and a raffle.

The boathouse also housed a historical exhibition detailing the lifeboats that have served at the station over the years. The event was a memorable occasion, thanks to the hard work of the Clogherhead RNLI volunteers who organised and supervised the celebration. 

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The Clogherhead RNLI station in County Louth is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, marking over a century of dedicated service to saving lives at sea. Established in 1899 under the auspices of the RNLI, the station was built with a corrugated galvanised iron boathouse on a concrete foundation and a short slipway. The first lifeboat placed there was the 'Charles Whitton,' which cost £582 at that time.

Today, the lifeboat station in Clogherhead houses a much more technologically advanced boat than the vessels that served the northeast coastline in the past. Nevertheless, the volunteer crew proudly employs it to do the same job as all its predecessors over the last 125 years—to help save lives at sea.

The Clogherhead RNLI's 125th anniversary is a proud milestone for the village and the wider community. The crew members are 'on call' 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, ready to respond to a personal pager that can sound at any time of the day or night. For that reason, the volunteer crew members live locally, and it's wonderful to see their level of commitment to their regular training exercises and availability to launch and crew the lifeboat at a moment's notice.

Clogherhead RNLI station in County Louth is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year

Personnel within the RNLI closely monitor the level of training required for shore and boat crew. Volunteer administrators, fundraisers, and RNLI Shop staff at Clogherhead RNLI also work together to keep the 'boat afloat.'

The RNLI is often confused with government agencies that are funded by the state, but it is, and always has been, a charitable organization depending on public support. It is a testament to that unwavering support that the Clogherhead station is still in existence 125 years on, manned by a crew of volunteers, as has always been the case down through the years.

The station at Clogherhead now has a state-of-the-art Shannon class all-weather lifeboat, the 'Michael O'Brien,' which arrived in 2019. It serves the north-east coast in collaboration with its sister stations in Skerries and Kilkeel, often with the Coast Guard land and air facilities and the Garda.

To mark the occasion, the Clogherhead RNLI station is hosting a series of events on the weekend of Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th of May. On Saturday 18th at 10.30 a.m., there will be a Clogherhead RNLI 125 Celebration Dip at the little strand, where sea swimmers are invited to participate in an aerial photo on the beach in 1-2-5 formation before a dip in the sea. Light refreshments will be available in the station afterwards.

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Clogherhead RNLI volunteers were tasked by the Irish Coast Guard on Thursday 16 November to come to the aid of two drifting vessels.

Following the request at 1.48pm to assist the two drifting vessels near the entrance to Carlingford Lough, the Clogherhead volunteers launched their all-weather Shannon class lifeboat immediately under coxswain Sean Flanagan with five crew members onboard.

When the lifeboat reached the scene at around 2.30pm, Kilkeel RNLI were already on standby. Sea conditions were calm at the time with good visibility and a southerly wind blowing.

It was found that one vessel was towing another and the leader vessel had broken down. Both vessels with crew on board were drifting towards the shore. A local trawler had towed both vessels away from the shore to safety.

Having assessed the situation, for the safety of the crew on board, a decision was made for Clogherhead’s volunteers to establish a towline to the leader vessel which was done successfully.

Both vessels were then towed back to the nearest safe port at Port Oriel in Clogherhead. The lifeboat arrived in Port Oriel at 5.30pm where Clogherhead Coast Guard provided assistance with locating a berth for both vessels. The crew on the vessels were seen safely ashore.

Speaking following the call-out, Flanagan said: “It was very important that the crew of the drifting vessels contacted the coastguard for assistance. Most importantly they were wearing lifejackets.

“With the help of Kilkeel RNLI, volunteers we were able to assess the situation in a short space of time and thankfully, on this occasion, there was no risk to human life. We also appreciated the help of our colleagues in Clogherhead Coast Guard.

“Should you get into difficulty at sea always call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

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In an early morning sea rescue, volunteers from the Clogherhead RNLI were called upon to come to the aid of a drifting 42 ft leisure craft. The Coast Guard requested assistance on Friday, 13 October, after the vessel experienced fuel problems and engine failure.

At 06.30, the Clogherhead volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather Shannon class lifeboat under the leadership of Coxswain Declan Clinton, with four crew members onboard. The lifeboat reached the scene of the drifting boat 19 nautical miles east of Clogherhead, where they found two crew members on board, both unharmed and wearing life jackets.

After assessing the situation, the RNLI crew decided to establish a towline and were able to successfully tow the vessel back to the nearest safe port at Port Oriel, Clogherhead. The lifeboat arrived in Port Oriel at 10.15, with the crew of the drifting vessel safely ashore.

Speaking about the call out, Coxswain Declan Clinton said, "The crew on board this drifting vessel did the right thing in contacting the Coast Guard on their VHF radio when their vessel began to drift. Most importantly, they were both wearing life jackets".

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Clogherhead RNLI volunteers were tasked by the Coast Guard on Saturday, 1 July, to aid a drifting 19 ft. motorboat.

The Clogherhead volunteer lifeboat crew were requested to launch their all-weather Shannon class lifeboat at 12.22 pm following a request by the Irish Coast Guard to go to the scene of a drifting leisure craft 19 nautical miles east of Clogherhead. The lifeboat launched immediately under Coxswain Gerald Sharkey with four crew members onboard.

Weather conditions at the time were calm, with a west/north westerly wind and clear visibility.

When the lifeboat reached the scene of the drifting 19 ft. boat at 1.33 pm, it had travelled a further mile from the original location. The vessel had been noticed by a passing yacht which remained at the scene until the arrival of the lifeboat. Clogherhead RNLI put a crew member aboard the drifting vessel and found no crew. The vessel had come adrift after its mooring broke.

Having assessed the situation, a decision was made to establish a towline which was done successfully. The vessel was then towed back to the nearest safe port at Port Oriel, Clogherhead. The lifeboat arrived in Port Oriel at 1.15 pm, where assistance from Clogherhead Coast Guard was available.

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For generations, women have saved lives, launched lifeboats and raised millions for the RNLI. At Clogherhead and Dunmore East RNLI, among many others, women are continuing this lifesaving legacy.

In Clogherhead, Co Louth, as far back as March 1904 — because of circumstances at the time — it is reported that local women launched the lifeboat. The usual land crew were not available because of an incident at sea involving local fishermen who would usually have carried out the launch.

Fifty-four years since the first woman qualified as an RNLI crew member, women make up around 12.3% of the RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew, a figure which is steadily growing.

Clogherhead RNLI volunteer Lisa Levins said: “International Women’s Day is all about girl power, but we are one crew and everyone is equal regardless of what role they do for the wider Clogherhead RNLI team. It doesn’t matter if you are female or male, we are all working together to save lives and keep people safe.’

Volunteer Barbara Kirk said: “If we can inspire other women and girls to think that this is something they can do too, then that is a bonus.

“To anyone thinking about joining the RNLI, just give it a go. Even if you haven’t got any background on the water or don’t know your way around a boat, there are roles for everyone and the training and support is comprehensive.”

Raina Freiberg is a volunteer crew members on Dunmore East RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Nigel MillardRaina Freiberg is a volunteer crew members on Dunmore East RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Nigel Millard

Elsewhere, Raina Freiberg joined the RNLI in Tramore in 2005 at the age of 18, eager to make a difference in her community.

Now part of the Dunmore East RNLI lifeboat crew in Co Waterford, she is proud to have served on four lifeboats and three different lifeboat classes, gaining valuable experience and skills over the course of nearly 20 years service with the charity.

“As a woman in the RNLI, I feel privileged to be part of the station where Frances Glody paved the way in RNLI history,” Raina said.

In 1981, Dunmore East’s Frances Glody became the first female RNLI all-weather lifeboat crew member in Ireland. Today, women make up around 12.3% of the RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew, a figure which is steadily growing.

Raina is pleased to see the changes over the years, such as the new crew kit designed specifically for women. She says it's the little things that make big differences: “I’m thrilled to see all-female crews saving lives at sea and I believe that there is an opportunity for women to fulfil any role they desire in the RNLI. We are all working together to save lives and keep people safe.”

Frances Glody was Ireland’s first female RNLI all-weather lifeboat crew member when she joined the Dunmore East unit in 1981 | Credit: RNLI ArchiveFrances Glody was Ireland’s first female RNLI all-weather lifeboat crew member when she joined the Dunmore East unit in 1981 | Credit: RNLI Archive

Sue Kingswood, RNLI inclusion and diversity manager added: “Creating an inclusive culture which supports diversity is key to our long-term sustainability. So, we’re working hard to make sure that a wide range of people see the RNLI as a charity where they’re welcome as volunteers, supporters or staff.

“As we approach our 200th anniversary, women are now more evident in operational search and rescue roles throughout the RNLI than they have ever been before. They are also better represented across operational management and in SAR training roles, which is great to see.

“However, we still have a long way to go to achieve the representation we would like, not only where women are concerned, but across a much broader spectrum of diversity too.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Clogherhead RNLI lifeboat came to the aid of two fishermen this morning (Thursday, 12 January) after their 10m boat encountered steering difficulties and began to drift out to sea.

The volunteer lifeboat crew were requested to launch their all-weather Shannon class lifeboat at 10.30 am following a request by the Irish Coast Guard to go to the fishermen’s aid. The lifeboat launched immediately under Coxswain Sean Flanagan and with four crew members onboard.

Weather conditions at the time were poor, with a constant south-to-south westerly wind gusting 45 knots once the lifeboat arrived on scene some 10 minutes later, two and a half miles northeast of Clogherhead.

The crew on the Razor boat had been fishing along the shore when their boat got into difficulty and was then pushed out to sea by the challenging weather.

The Irish Coast Guard helicopter, Rescue 116 from Dublin, was also tasked along with Clogherhead Coast Guard.

Once on scene, the lifeboat crew observed that the fishermen were safe and well but that the boat was lying broadside due to the weather.

Having assessed the situation, a decision was made to establish a towline which was done successfully despite the weather. The vessel was then towed back to the nearest safe port at Port Oriel. This was done at a slow two knots for the comfort of the fishermen onboard who were facing into the weather. The lifeboat arrived in Port Oriel at 1.15 pm where they were assisted by the shore unit of Clogherhead Coast Guard in taking the ropes of the fishing boat and securing her at the pier.

Speaking following the call out, Clogherhead RNLI Coxswain Sean Flanagan said: ‘Conditions at sea were challenging today, but we were delighted to assist the fishermen and bring them safely back to Port Oriel. We would also like to thank our colleagues in the Coast Guard for their assistance.

‘We are experiencing some poor weather at the minute, so we would encourage anyone planning a trip to sea to check the forecast before venturing out and to attend to their own personal safety. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard'.

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The volunteer crew from Clogherhead RNLI in Mid Louth were called to rescue a lone fisherman and his boat in calm conditions as the sun went down on Saturday evening (10 September).

The fisherman himself had requested help from the Irish Coast Guard who tasked Clogherhead RNLI to come to his aid as his fishing boat was drifting after the propellor became tangled in some lobster pots.

The all-weather Shannon class lifeboat launched under coxswain Gerard Sharkey at 7.11pm and headed to the fishing boat’s confirmed position two miles north of Dunany Point.

The lifeboat reached the drifting vessel at 7.40pm and the crew found the fisherman to be fine himself but anxious because the boat had continued drifting.

The crew assessed the situation before a decision was made to attach a tow rope to the drifting vessel and make the journey back to the nearest safe port at Clogherhead Harbour. The lifeboat, with fishing boat and the fisherman in tow, arrived safely at 9.30pm.

Speaking after the callout, Sharkey said: “The RNLI always advises anyone who needs help at sea to call 999 and ask for the coastguard which is what this fisherman did. Happily, we reached him before anything happened and we had a positive outcome for the fisherman and his boat.”

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Volunteers at Skerries RNLI raced into action on Friday afternoon (10 June) around 1pm following a 999 call reporting two children being blown out to sea on an inflatable from Bettystown beach.

The crew encountered heavy squalls heading north to the location in their Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat, and with the increased risk to the casualties they requested that Clogherhead RNLI in Co Louth assist in the search.

As the team from Clogherhead were making their way south in their all-weather lifeboat, Skerries RNLI located the casualty vessel — which turned out to be a yellow kayak containing personal belongings but no one on board or in the water nearby.

Dublin Coast Guard issued a Mayday before tasking the Dublin-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116 as well as the Drogheda Coast Guard land unit.

The lifeboat from Skerries immediately began a search pattern in the area, while Clogherhead RNLI commenced a parallel search of the shore from the mouth of the Boyne heading south.

Shortly after the search patterns had begun, Rescue 116 requested Clogherhead RNLI to divert from their course to investigate an object in the water near Gormanstown beach.

However, as they were making their way to the coordinates given, Dublin Coast Guard reported that the owners of the kayak had made contact and confirmed that they were ashore in Bettystown and were safe and well.

The Mayday was cancelled and all units were stood down and returned to their respective bases.

Conditions at the time has a Force 4-5 westerly wind with slight swells and good visibility. There were occasional strong squalls with winds increasing to Force 6 and visibility reduced to poor.

Speaking about the callout, Skerries RNLI press officer Gerry Canning said: “There were two black back supports in the kayak so it’s very easy to see how the person who dialled 999 and asked for the coastguard genuinely believed that someone was in difficulty.

“Thankfully in this case it was a false alarm, but they did exactly what we want people to do when they see someone in trouble.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

RNLI crews from Kilkeel in Co Down and Clogherhead in Co Louth launched to the aid of seven people and a dog last week after their 80ft tall ship ran aground in Carlingford Lough.

The lifeboat volunteers launched their inshore and all-weather lifeboats at 3.30pm on last Tuesday 24 May following a report that a vessel had run aground on a falling tide earlier in the day close to Narrow Water Castle while on passage from Newry to Ballycastle in Northern Ireland’s North Antrim coast.

Greenore Coast Guard and Kilkeel Coastguard were also tasked. But with no one in immediate danger, a decision was made to hold off on launching the lifeboats to assist until the tide came up.

With the rising tide, the ship began to take on water quickly so upon arrival, lifeboat crew transferred on board with two salvage pumps to take the ingress out.

The seven crew of the tall ship and the dog were transferred onto their smaller inflatable tender which was safely escorted to Warrenpoint Harbour by Clogherhead RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat.

Meanwhile, two more pumps were put aboard the vessel and after two-and-a-half hours the ship became level with the sea again. Subsequently the tall ship was towed into the channel where it was able to continue under its own steam to the nearest safe port at Warrenpoint Harbour escorted by both lifeboats.

Speaking following the callout, Kilkeel RNLI helm Gary Young said: “Thankfully, no one was in any immediate danger, but the ship’s crew safely moved to their tender once the vessel began to take on a lot of water as the tide rose.

“There was great teamwork between ourselves and our colleagues from Clogherhead RNLI and Greenore Coast Guard. We had to work quickly to get the salvage pumps on and to remove the ingress of water which we were delighted to see working in order to save the vessel.”

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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.

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