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Achill Island RNLI were delighted yesterday evening (Monday 23 August) to be able to bring home a patient they had medically evacuated from Inishturk almost two months ago.

The volunteer lifeboat crew had provided a medevac for 88-year-old John O’Toole from his home on Inishturk on 28 June, bringing him to Achill Island where he was transferred to Mayo University Hospital suffering from a severe infection.

He was later moved to a nursing home where he remained for four weeks before becoming well enough to finally return home.

John was surrounded by his wife Mary and daughters Phil Kilbane and Anne Maher prior to his departure from Achill Island in flat calm sea conditions and glorious evening sunshine.

Speaking of her father’s dramatic recovery, Anne said: “The doctor told us Dad could have died if the lifeboat didn’t take him off the island back in June.”

Echoing the appreciation of her sister, Phil Kilbane said: “The people of both Clare Island and Inishturk are forever grateful for the help and assistance of Achill Island RNLI to the islanders.

“A big thank you to the crew who volunteer their time, day and night, and for bringing our Dad back home safely this evening.”

Prior to the departure, local family Katie and John Sweeney and their son Seamus Tiernan were present on the pier to wave John off.

Seamus, a talented and well-known musician, played some traditional Irish tunes for John, much to his delight, as he boarded the all-weather lifeboat Sam and Ada Moody.

Achill Island RNLI recently bade farewell to long-serving lifeboat operations manager Tony McNamara, who retired after more than three decades of service, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

On Monday evening, 23 August, Valentia Coast Guard requested Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat to launch to assess a cruiser reported aground by a concerned member of the public. The cruiser was said to be in Scarriff Bay, north of the entrance to the Scarriff River.

At 6.51 pm the lifeboat Jean Spier launched with helm crew Owen Cavanagh, crew Eleanor Hooker, Joe O’Donoghue and Doireann Kennedy on board. The lake was calm. Visibility was good.

At 7:08 pm the lifeboat arrived on scene. The cruiser was aground on a rocky shore, north of the entrance to the Scarriff River. The lifeboat stood off to inspect the aspect of the cruiser, which appeared to be pivoting on the edge of the shoal.

Taking a transit off their stern, and with a volunteer RNLI crew taking soundings off the bow, and another using the onboard electronic charts, the lifeboat made a cautious approach to the casualty vessel. There was a family of three onboard, all safe and unharmed and wearing their lifejackets. An RNLI crew member transferred across to the casualty vessel and established that the vessel was not holed.

The crew took soundings around the casualty vessel, and given the isolated location, the helm decided that the safest option was to set up an astern tow and take the vessel of the rocks and out into safe water.

At 7.20 pm the lifeboat had the vessel off the rocks and out into safe water, where drives and rudder were found to be in good working order. The RNLI volunteer was transferred back to the lifeboat, and the cruiser and her passengers continued their onward journey to Scarriff Harbour.

The lifeboat departed the scene at 7.48 pm and was back at Station at 8.06 pm.

Jeremy Freeman, Deputy Launching Authority at Lough Derg RNLI, advises water users to ‘keep a lookout and anticipate each navigation mark on your route and always carry a means of communication’.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Volunteer lifeboat crew from Fenit RNLI rescued a swimmer last night (Sunday 22 August) following an extensive search after clothes had been found on a beach at Castlegregory earlier in the day. Fenit RNLI and Rescue 115 had been requested to launch by the Irish Coast Guard yesterday morning at 11 am after the discovery of clothes on a beach in Castlegregory. At 8.30 pm volunteer lifeboat crew with Fenit RNLI spotted a head above the water and took the swimmer onboard the All-Weather Lifeboat. It is not known how long the swimmer had been in the water but the casualty was brought to Fenit Harbour to be met by ambulance and brought to hospital.

Early yesterday, Fenit RNLI All-Weather Lifeboat crew were on exercise when they were tasked to a search for swimmer at 12.40 pm, following the discovery of clothes on a beach. Fenit RNLI Inshore lifeboat and Rescue 115 also joined the search. Conditions were excellent with calm waters and low tide and a search was undertaken of the area. With nothing found and no further information, the search was stood down in the afternoon.

At 6 pm the search was reactivated at the request of An Garda Siochana with the two lifeboats searching the original area and the bay nearer to Tralee and again joined by Rescue 115 overhead. At 8.30 pm, volunteer lifeboat crew with Fenit RNLI spotted a pod of dolphins and a head above the water about two and a half miles off Castlegregory beach. The casualty was conscious and immediately recovered onto the lifeboat and brought Fenit Harbour to be taken to hospital. Fenit RNLI’s medical advisor was also on scene.

Commenting on the rescue Fenit RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Gerard O’Donnell said, ‘ After a long and exhaustive search, members of the lifeboat crew were overjoyed to sight the missing swimmer in the water. They had been scanning the water for any sign of movement and were worried with light fading would not find anyone. Even at this time of year, the water can be very cold and as yet we don’t know how long this person was in the water and when they entered it. When the lifeboat crew found them they were a good distance from the shore and were exhausted.’

‘We would advise that anyone undertaking a swim lets people know where they are going and when they expected back. This was a very lucky individual.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Aran Islands RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew were called to two medical evacuations from Inis Oirr and Inis Mór yesterday (Sunday 22 August).

At 3.42 pm the crew were asked by the Irish Coast Guard to launch their all-weather Severn class lifeboat to a medical evacuation of a young male on a day trip to Inis Oirr who had sustained an injury to his arm after a fall from a bicycle.

The lifeboat launched under Coxswain Tommy Dirrane and a full crew onboard and headed straight for Inis Oirr. Conditions at the time of launching was good with calm seas and good visibility.

With the lifeboat alongside the pier in Inis Oirr, the patient was brought safely aboard the lifeboat by the crew. The lifeboat then headed straight for Rossaveal Harbour and the waiting ambulance.

The second call came at 7.46pm, when the crew were requested by the Irish Coast Guard to transport a patient from Inis Mór who was in need of further medical attention.

With the patient safety transferred aboard the lifeboat, the lifeboat launched under Coxswain John O'Donnell and a full crew.

Conditions at this time of launching were also good with calm seas, light winds, but a low dense fog which reduced visibility greatly.

Speaking after the call outs both Aran Island RNLI Coxswains commended the speedy reaction time from the volunteer crew members to launch the lifeboat: ‘Minutes can make all the difference and our crowd never let us down,’ said Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain Tommy Dirrane. ‘We would like to wish both patients a speedy recovery.

‘As we head into another fine weather spell, we would like to advise visitors to respect the water. If planning a trip to the beach or sea, never swim alone and always let someone know where you are going and when you are due back. Always carry a means of calling with you in a waterproof pouch or bag and always wear a lifejacket at sea.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Wicklow RNLI all-weather lifeboat launched at 10 pm on Sunday (22 August) after a sailor was reported missing from a container ship 16 miles off the Wicklow coast.

The lifeboat arrived in the search area before 10.45 pm and began an immediate search. The Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116 was also tasked to join the search.

During the sector search the casualty was located just after 11 pm by the lifeboat crew. The Rescue 116 Paramedic winchman was lowered onto the lifeboat to assess the casualty, before being winched onto the Coast Guard helicopter and airlifted to hospital in Dublin.

Speaking after the callout Coxswain Nick Keogh said: ‘We located the casualty 5 miles northeast of the Codling Buoy during a sector search, weather conditions in the area were calm at the time with good visibility.’

The crew on the callout were Coxswain Nick Keogh, Mechanic Tommy Murphy, Tommy MacAulay, Alan Goucher, John Stapleton, and Peter Byrne.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Howth RNLI was tasked by Dublin Coast Guard to recover an upturned RIB tender that fell off the rear of a powerboat.

Howth RNLI pagers sounded at 1.00 pm Saturday 21st August 2021 after being tasked by Dublin Coast Guard to recover an upturned rigid inflatable boat that had fallen off the rear of a powerboat.

The powerboat owner had tried to retrieve the RIB but was unsuccessful. They called Dublin Coast Guard and asked for assistance.

The Howth RNLI all-weather lifeboat and volunteer crew launched 12 minutes later and made its way to the scene.

Weather conditions at the time were calm seas with a 6-7 knot southeast breeze and localised thundery downpours.

Howth RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew righted the upturned vessel and took the RIB in tow to the safety of Howth harbour.

Howth RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew righted the upturned vessel and took the RIB in tow to the safety of Howth harbour

Howth RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew righted the upturned vessel and took the RIB in tow to the safety of Howth harbour

Howth RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew righted the upturned vessel and took the RIB in tow to the safety of Howth harbour

Speaking following the callout, Fred Connolly, Howth RNLI Coxswain said: ‘The powerboat owner did absolutely the correct thing, to call for assistance before the RIB drifted into shipping lanes. We were pleased to be tasked and be able to retrieve the RIB before it became a danger to other vessels’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Dunmore East RNLI’s lifeboat volunteers leapt into action on the report of a dog that fell over a 30m cliff near the Co Wexford town yesterday afternoon (Thursday 19 August).

The inshore lifeboat was launched at 2pm at the request of the Irish Coast Guard to locate the little pooch, which had gone over the cliff edge a half a mile to the east of Portally Cove.

Eight minutes later the lifeboat arrived on scene and signed the dog on a ledge at the bottom of the cliff.

Two crew launched the lifeboat’s XP boat and made their way to the cliff base, where one of them was able to climb onto the rocks and rescue Ellie the dog.

Thankfully Ellie was unharmed after her ordeal, and was swiftly brought back to Dunmore East Harbour where she was happily reunited with her family.

Roy Abrahamsson, Dunmore East RNLI coxswain, said: “Weather conditions were good at the time and our volunteer crew did a great job in rescuing little Ellie.

“Our concern with incidents like this is that dog owners may try to get down the cliff after the dog while endangering themselves. Thankfully this was not the case this time; the owners did the right thing in calling for help.”

Yesterday’s callout marks one of the last in Dunmore East for the Trent class lifeboat Elizabeth and Ronald, which is set to be replaced by a new €2.4 million Shannon class vessel next month. Afloat.ie has more on that story HERE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Achill Island RNLI’s Tony McNamara retires as Lifeboat Operations Manager after 32 years of service to the charity.

Achill Island RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, Tony McNamara has retired after three decades of volunteering for the charity in an operational role. Tony will, however, continue to volunteer with the Achill Island RNLI Fundraising Branch.

Tony has been involved with the RNLI in Mayo since 1989 when a new lifeboat station opened at Ballyglass, the first all-weather lifeboat station to be opened in Ireland since 1929. Tony was stationed in Belmullet Garda Station where he worked as a Garda Sergeant at the time and where he was later promoted to the role of Garda Superintendent. He was further promoted to Chief Superintendent in 2005 before retiring from that role in Castlebar in 2009.

Tony was involved with Achill Island RNLI from its outset in 1994 when the Achill Lifeboat Committee was set up to work towards the establishment of a permanent lifeboat station on Achill Island in 1997. Tony was the Second Coxswain at Ballyglass RNLI until 2002 when he was appointed Honorary Secretary on the retirement of the late Paddy Leech, a role he held until 2005. Tony had at the same time been a committee member at the Achill Island Lifeboat Station since its inception in 1997.

Having moved back to Achill, Tony was appointed Deputy Launching Authority for the station before taking up the role of Lifeboat Operations Manager in 2017 on the retirement of Tom Honeyman. This role saw him managing all operational activities at the lifeboat station, authorising the launch of the lifeboat and the day-to-day management of the station.

As Lifeboat Operations Manager, Tony was also a key link to the fundraising branch where he now continues to volunteer his time to raise the essential funds needed to help save lives at sea. Like all lifeboat stations, Achill Island RNLI relies on donations from the public to operate and Tony very much enjoys the camaraderie and social aspect that comes with being a member of the branch.

Reflecting on the last three decades, Tony who is also a keen angler and a former scuba diver said: ‘The story of the RNLI encompasses the spirit of the volunteer - the crew, the fundraisers and the public who value that commitment and support it so generously.’

While many of Achill Island RNLI’s call-outs are to medical evacuations from Mayo’s inhabited islands, Tony, as Lifeboat Operations Manager, has over the years set off his crew’s pagers for a range of other incidents too including to swimmers, surfers and boat users who found themselves in difficulty.

Some call outs are etched in Tony’s memory. These include the tragic Rescue 116 accident in March 2017 off Blackrock Island which claimed the lives of all four crew members onboard. Tony was the first point of contact at Achill Island RNLI by the Irish Coast Guard and this request was one which would see the all-weather lifeboat, Sam and Ada Moody, and her volunteer crew search for 28 consecutive days. Tony also sadly recalls the tragic drowning of two young siblings, also his neighbours, in Blacksod Bay in July 2001 when he responded with the Ballyglass RNLI crew.

There are better memories too including back in December 1993 when four surfers were miraculously rescued over two miles off Easkey having spent several hours in the freezing, dark sea. Tony was the Ballyglass RNLI Coxswain that night and he remembers the euphoria onboard the lifeboat when all four were found alive.

Following Tony’s retirement, Ciaran Needham has taken up the helm as the new Lifeboat Operations Manager at Achill Island RNLI: ‘I am delighted to be handling the baton to Ciaran and I wish him well in that role’ Tony added. ‘I have no doubt that Ciaran will be very successful in leading the station into the future as we approach the 200th anniversary of the founding of the RNLI in 2024.’

Married to Anastasia for 48 years with three daughters, Ruth, Claire and Lucy, and six grandchildren, Tony said he is looking forward to retirement: ‘I look forward to the freedom from the pager and mobile phones which have been a constant in my life since I joined the Ballyglass crew in 1989 but I will miss the RNLI family and the contact I had with our friends in Malin Head Coast Guard Radio Station who monitor the emergency radio channels day and night.’

When speaking about his lifeboat family, Tony said: ‘I would like to thank my Deputy Launching Authority, Marie Kilbane, herself a former crew member, who covered for me in my absence. Likewise, our Honorary Medical Advisor, Doctor Noreen Lineen Curtis who has always been there for us and was always ready to go to sea when needed. I want to thank all the team at the coalface - our crew who never seek the limelight but who carries a pager day and night to answer the call, I will miss the regular contact with them.

Rob King, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager, paid tribute to Tony: ‘I would like to thank Tony for his years of operational service with Ballyglass and Achill Island RNLI stations and for his guidance and leadership during his tenure as Lifeboat Operations Manager. I am delighted that he will remain involved with our fundraising team, and I wish him well.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Preparations are well underway to bring the RNLI’s latest lifeboat for the Irish fleet to its new home at Dunmore East next month. The €2.4 million vessel will be the first Shannon class lifeboat to be based in the south-east. It’s a bittersweet moment for the lifeboat crew and fundraisers at Dunmore East RNLI, as the arrival signals the end of the station’s current Trent class lifeboat, Elizabeth and Ronald, which has been saving lives at sea there since October 1996.

The name of the new lifeboat will be William and Agnes Wray 13-41. Dunmore East RNLI crew will bring the lifeboat home the week commencing 20th September, with arrival expected in Dunmore East Harbour on Sunday 26th September at 13.41hrs to coincide with the lifeboats number.

William and Agnes Wray entered the water for the first-time last month at the RNLI college in Poole, where the charity’s All-Weather Lifeboats are built. During the build the station are kept up to date on the progress of their lifeboat, although the Coxswains and mechanics have been unable to visit due to Covid restrictions. The arrival of the new lifeboat means a demanding training schedule for the entire station as they learn how to launch and operate the new vessel. The first crew to be trained onboard the new lifeboat will depart for Poole on the 23rd of August, with the mechanics following in September. Training will continue for some weeks until the entire station is familiar with their new lifeboat and they officially inform the Coast Guard that the William and Agnes Wray is on service and the Elizabeth and Ronald has been stood down.

Say Hello to Dunmore East RNLI's New Shannon Class Lifeboat

The Shannon class lifeboat is the first modern all-weather lifeboat to be propelled by waterjets instead of traditional propellers, making it the most agile and manoeuvrable all-weather lifeboat in the RNLI’s fleet. The naming of the Shannon class of lifeboat follows a tradition of naming lifeboats after rivers but it's the first time an Irish river has been chosen and was done so to reflect the commitment and dedication of Irish lifeboat crew for generations.

Commenting on the news Dunmore East RNLI Coxswain Roy Abrahamsson said, ‘This is a very proud moment for the crew and the community of Dunmore East. While we have huge affection for our current Trent class lifeboat, which has served us so well and brought many people home, we are thrilled to receive a state of the art Shannon class lifeboat, the first of its type to be based in the South-East. It’s a huge investment by the RNLI in lifesaving for this area. This will help us to continue to save lives at sea for generations to come.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lough Derg RNLI assisted five people on vessels in difficulty across two back-to-back shouts on the lough today, Monday 16 August.

In the first callout, the lifeboat was alerted by Valentia Coast Guard to a 30ft cruiser reported aground close to Mountshannon Harbour in the southwestern part of Lough Derg.

With Eleanor Hooker at the helm and crew Owen Cavanagh, Joe O’Donoghue and Chris Parker on board, the inshore lifeboat Jean Spicer launched at 11.40am in moderate conditions with Force 4 north-westerly winds blowing.

Within 15 minutes the lifeboat had sighted the casualty vessel, which was aground on a sandbar in the bay east of Mountshannon Harbour. The lifeboat took frequent soundings on a cautious approach to the casualty vessel, located in an area known for its sudden shallows.

The cruiser’s skipper was found to be safe and unharmed and wearing his lifejacket.

Given the vessel’s location close to a navigation channel to a small marina, it was decided the safest plan was to take the cruiser off the sandbar and out into safe water. The skipper was asked to drain his water tanks to lighten the vessel.

Soon the lifeboat had the cruiser off the sandbar and under tow to safe water, where drives and rudder were found to be undamaged and in good working order. The cruiser made way under its own power to Mountshannon Harbour.

Upon departing the scene at 12.32pm, the lifeboat crew were requested by Valentia Coast Guard to attend a family of four on a 40ft cruiser broken down by Navigation Mark E at the Goat Road at the lough’s north-eastern shore.

The cruiser had suffered an electrical failure, and the skipper had dropped anchor to prevent being pushed onto a rocky shore.

The lifeboat was alongside within half an hour, finding all on board safe and unharmed and wearing lifejackets.

One of the lifeboat crew transferred across and confirmed that none of the systems on board were working. Given the location and weather conditions, the helm decided to take the cruiser under tow to Kilgarvan Harbour, the safest close harbour.

Liam Maloney, deputy launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI, advises water users to “check the weather forecast for inland lakes and always carry a means of communication. Dial 999 or 112 and ask for marine rescue if you find yourself in difficulty on the water.”

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