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RNLI Lifeboat News From Ireland
Helvick Head RNLI’s lifeboats on the water with the Naval Service’s LÉ George Bernard Shaw during its open day celebrations
Helvick Head RNLI in Co Waterford was called upon twice on the same weekend as it celebrated the 25th anniversary of its reopening. The first callout was during a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon (20 August), when lifeboat volunteers were…
File image of Portaferry RNLI’s inshore lifeboat
Portaferry RNLI in Northern Ireland rescued a male after he drifted more than a mile out to sea while holding on to the edge of a 15ft cabin cruiser on Tuesday afternoon (23 August). The lifeboat crew were launched to…
RNLI systems technician Euan Noble
RNLI systems technician Euan Noble was enjoying his weekend off at Portrush’s East Strand when his girlfriend Charlotte spotted two children struggling in the water on Sunday afternoon (21 August). Euan, an experienced surfer who works to maintain the mechanics…
File photo of RNLI lifeboat Valentia
At 2.48pm the Valentia Coast Guard requested Valentia RNLI’s volunteer crew to launch the all-weather lifeboat and to go to the aid of two adults adrift at the mouth of Cuas Crom harbour. Weather conditions at the time we described…
Clifden RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat (right) towing the stricken yacht (centre), with the inshore lifeboat behind (left)
Clifden RNLI’s volunteer crew launched both of their lifeboats on Sunday (21 August) to reports of a yacht in difficulty three miles north west of Slyne Head off Connemara. The Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat launched at 2.20pm under the command…
File image of Achill Island RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat Sam and Ada Moody
Achill Island RNLI were requested by the Irish Coast Guard to assist with a swimmer who got into difficulty at Mulranny on Friday evening (19 August). The volunteer lifeboat crew were paged shortly after 6pm to assist with a man…
Union Hall RNLI’s crew and shore crew, from left: Peter Olden, Richie O’Mahony, Charlie Deasy, Stephen Hurley, Niamh Collins and Denis Nolan
Union Hall RNLI in West Cork were paged by Valentia Coast Guard at 8.55am on Friday (19 August) to go to the aid of a lone boater in a punt. The lifeboat Christine and Raymond Fielding, under helm Stephen Hurley…
Skerries RNLI approaching the mother and child on a paddleboard some 200m from the shore at Balbriggan on Thursday evening 18 August
Skerries RNLI were tasked on Thursday evening (18 August) following 999 calls to Dublin Coast Guard reporting a mother and child on a paddleboard being blown out to sea near Balbriggan. The north Co Dublin lifeboat’s volunteer crew launched within…
Lough Derg RNLI’s inshore lifeboat Jean Spier
On Thursday afternoon (August 18), Valentia Coast Guard requested Lough Derg RNLI to assist a family of four on a 43ft cruiser with engine failure, adrift in heavy weather. At 5.02pm, the inshore lifeboat Jean Spier launched with helm Steve…
RNLI deputy chair Eddie Donaldson with Jo May from the Portrush and Portstewart fundraising team who received her 40-year award
RNLI stations in Northern Ireland are celebrating several volunteers who were presented with long-service medals at Belfast Castle recently. Held this year for the first time since the Covid pandemic, the event was attended by the deputy chairman of the…
Skerries RNLI towing the broken-down RIB from the waters off Lambay Island on Sunday afternoon 14 August
Following a busy lead-in to the weekend with three callouts in 24 hours, the volunteers at Skerries RNLI in north Co Dublin were kept on their toes by four calls between Saturday and Sunday. Shortly before 1pm on Saturday afternoon…
Cora Cassidy, Jim & Robert Wyatt Daly meet Stormy Stan at a previous open day
Final preparations are being made for this Sunday’s RNLI & Emergency Services Open Day, which will be held at Bundoran RNLI Lifeboat Station from 1-4 pm. The open day, which was last held in 2019, will showcase the equipment and…
175-year-old lifeboat house in Kilmore Quay
This summer marks 175 years since a lifeboat service was first established in Kilmore Quay. The occasion will be celebrated with an exhibition curated by local author and historian, John Power, over the weekend August 26-28 in the Stella Maris…
Kilmore Quay RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat and the stricken 10m yacht as seen from the lifeboat’s Y-boat
Kilmore Quay RNLI were called in the early hours of Saturday (13 August) to assist a lone sailor whose yacht had run aground just outside Kilmore Quay harbour, having also launched the previous afternoon to assist two people whose yacht…
Wicklow RNLI all weather lifeboat
Wicklow RNLI volunteers brought five people to safety during two call-outs on Saturday (13 August) after their boats suffered engine failure off the Wicklow coast. The first call-out came at 4:30 pm, when the all-weather lifeboat slipped its moorings from…
Castletownbere RNLI is launched
Castletownbere RNLI was launched last night (Saturday, 13 August 2022) just after 22:00 to go to the assistance of an 11-year-old child who had fallen on Bere Island off the coast of West Cork. Castletownbere lifeboat volunteer crew were requested…

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.

© Afloat 2020