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Lough Derg RNLI have announced the appointment of Dr Christine O’Malley as lifeboat operations manager.

Dr O’Malley, who took up the post on 8 January this year after the retirement of Liam Maloney, is now responsible for all activities at the lifeboat station on the Shannon Navigation.

The retired consultant geriatrician, and regular columnist for the Medical Independent, joined Lough Derg RNLI in 2019 as a volunteer deputy launching authority — a role that she now hands over to Maloney.

In her new position, Dr O’Malley is receiving support and guidance from Owen Medland, RNLI regional lifesaving lead for Ireland; Peter Harty, RNLI area lifesaving manager for the East of Ireland, and RNLI crew assessor trainer Helena Duggan, as well as the dedicated volunteers at Lough Derg RNLI.

“Already a highly respected member of the station, Christine brings a wealth of leadership and management experience from her medical career,” Harty says.

“Christine has come onboard as we progress towards a year in which we anticipate a high volume of ‘staycationers’ enjoying Lough Derg.”

Lough Derg RNLI operates from the premises of Lough Derg Yacht Club at Dromineer, midway down the east shore of the lake in Co Tipperary.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Since Sir William Hillary founded the RNLI in 1824, women have had a role in the service — initially working in the background by helping to launch and recover the lifeboats, fundraising for the voluntary service and supporting their husbands and sons when the lifeboat went to the rescue.

Today, women are taking their place at the forefront of the RNLI, serving as crew members, leading fundraising campaigns and of course still supporting their family who crew the lifeboats.

Arranmore RNLI off mainland Donegal was founded in 1883 and although it was only men with a knowledge of the sea who crewed the lifeboats, without the support of their female family members they would have had difficultly manning the vessels while looking after young families.

The women of Arranmore were always very resilient, from dealing with the hardships and tragedies of island living in their every day lives, to playing a vital role in supporting the lifeboat families when the crew were responding to a difficult rescue in horrendous weather conditions.

An example of the type of rescues the Arranmore RNLI were involved in was in December 1940, when they rescued 16 crew members of The Stolwyjk in the most challenging weather conditions. The crew were awarded gold, silver and bronze medals for the very memorable rescue.

Today, as in every lifeboat station throughout Ireland and the UK, Arranmore RNLI is proud to have women crew members. Lifeboat press officer Nora Flanagan was the first woman to join the Arranmore RNLI crew, and four more women have since joined the crew in this vital lifesaving service.

Nora Flanagan was the first woman to join Arranmore RNLI’s crew (Photo: RNLI/Arranmore)Nora Flanagan was the first woman to join Arranmore RNLI’s crew | Photo: RNLI/Arranmore

These women are Karen McGowan, a registered advanced nurse practitioner in Beaumont Hospital and president of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO); round-the-world sailor Sharon O’Donnell; Erin McCafferty, a student at NUI Galway; and primary school teacher Aisling Cox.

Karen McGowan joined the Arranmore RNLI crew at age 17 and continued to serve throughout her nursing training. Speaking to Karen about why she joined the RNLI, she said: “I enjoyed the adrenaline rush and I knew I wanted to train as a nurse; as a crew member on the lifeboat I gained a huge amount of experience with the excellent training the RNLI provides. Dealing with medical emergencies on a callout served me well in my student nurse training.

“I had quite a few memorable rescues during my time as a crew member but the most poignant was rescuing the crew of a sinking trawler. As soon as the crew were brought on board the Lifeboat the trawler sank very quickly. It was very hard to watch somebody’s livelihood sink beneath the waves and witness the raw emotion on the faces of both the lifeboat and the trawler crews.

“I would encourage anybody to join their local RNLI, it really helps you think outside the box and the crews are very supportive and helpful to new recruits”.

All crew members are required to serve a probationary period where they learn all the skills involved in saving lives. Learning is competence-based and crew members must prove their competency in one skill before taking on another. This training enables all volunteers, many of whom have little or no knowledge of boats or the sea, to become first-class lifesavers.

The first RNLI women’s award was to honour Grace Darling, a lighthouse-keeper’s daughter who helped rescue nine people in 1838.

Aisling Cox with her dad and fellow crew member Kieran (Photo: RNLI/Arranmore)Aisling Cox with her dad and fellow crew member Kieran | Photo: RNLI/Arranmore

Voluntary fundraising committees are an essential part of the RNLI and women are very much to the fore in raising funds to keep the lifeboats afloat.

As the charity celebrates International Women’s Day, it salutes the selflessness and dedication of the many women of the RNLI involved in saving lives at sea.

Grace Gallagher has been a member of the Arranmore fundraising committee for over 25 years. She has been honoured and recognised by the RNLI as the longest-serving member of the fundraising committee and has raised thousands of euro for the RNLI.

Grace said: “I can’t believe I’ve been fundraising for the RNLI for over 25 years. Living by the sea and with many of our families involved in the fishing industry, we rely on the lifeboat and the contribution of the public to continue with this essential voluntary service. It has been a pleasure to be part of it.”

Other remarkable women connected with Arranmore RNLI include Sadie Bonner, a former postal worker who started supporting the RNLI by collecting fundraising buckets from shops and selling badges, and who is now treasurer of the fundraising committee; and Arranmore RNLI station president Majella O’Donnell.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Like every other RNLI station, lifeboat volunteers at Kinsale RNLI have been unable to pursue their normal fundraising activities due to Covid-19 restrictions.

So they were surprised and delighted to receive a cheque recently for over $5,000 from a group of Irish expatriates in the USA.

McCarthy’s Bar in San Francisco — owned by Eileen McCarthy from Drinagh, West Cork — became an unlikely outpost for the lifeboat thanks to Kinsale native John Farley, who has lived in the Californian city for the past 30 years.

John is a lifelong supporter of the RNLI, with first-hand experience of their work after he, his sister and niece were rescued a number of years ago when their boat broke down off the Old Head.

Towards the end of the American NFL season, John organised a football pool with 25 friends, many from West Cork, for the final four San Francisco 49er games. They raised an incredible $5,200.

This is the largest single donation received by Kinsale RNLI since lockdown was introduced in March last, and the station says it will go a long way towards funding an essential service that has remained on call throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eileen and John have now installed an official RNLI collection box in McCarthy’s bar so fundraising can continue into the future. “We all appreciate that that RNLI is there for us when we need them, so we wanted to be there for them in their hour of need,” John said.

Kinsale RNLI lifeboat press officer Tricia Tyson commented: “John has been a great supporter down the years, and tells me their next big fundraiser will be for the RNLI in the Aran Islands as one of his group, Ronan Concannon, is from Aran Mor.

“We are delighted they are sharing their generosity with hardworking stations around Ireland. Our RNLI collection box only arrived in San Francisco a few weeks ago and John tells me it is almost full already.

“On behalf of all our RNLI volunteers, I wish to sincerely thank John, Eileen and all the McCarthy’s bar customers for remembering the RNLI back home. It just goes to prove the old adage that you can take a man out of Ireland, but you can’t take Ireland out of the man.”

The other Kinsale fundraisers in San Francisco are Fergus O’Shea, Derek Lovell, Polo Crosbie, Jason Davenport, Richard O’Keeffe, with John Farley and Kathleen Barry in Boston, Gertie O’Shea in Vancouver and the Callanan family, related to John Farley, who live in Kinsale.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

A woman was rescued from a sea inlet in West Cork after a more than 90-minute ordeal yesterday evening, Thursday 25 February.

The casualty had got caught in the swelling tide just off the slipway at Dunworley Beach near Butlerstown before 5pm.

Fortunately her shouts for help were heard above the sinkhole leading to the inlet a local walker, who immediately called the rescue services.

Courtmacsherry RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat attended the scene alongside the Irish Coast Guard’s helicopter Rescue 115 from Shannon and the land-based Old Head/Seven Heads coastguard unit, who rigged up their ropes to climb down the sinkhole and reach the casualty.

The woman was then successfully raised up the sink hole cliff face to the care of a waiting HSE ambulance crew.

Courtmacsherry RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer Vincent O'Donovan said: “It was great to see the total dedication of so many voluntary people from all the rescue services today and everyday in these difficult Covid times, who drop all and rush to the aid of others in difficulties.”

O'Donovan reiterated the importance of calling the rescue services at 112 or 999 quickly once any incident like this occurs, as they are always at the ready 24 hours a day — and every minute is so important to any person in difficulty.

Published in Rescue

RNLI Portrush has posted that RNLI Lifeguards are recruiting and applications are open for 2021.

If you have a National Vocational Beach Lifeguard qualification and are interested in joining a dynamic, well-trained team responsible for keeping beach users safe around the RNLI patrolled beaches, then this may be for you.

In Northern Ireland, recruitment is open for the Causeways Coast and County Down beaches. Those on the Causeway Coast are Benone Strand, Downhill, Castlerock, Portstewart Strand, Portrush East and West Strands, Whiterocks and Ballycastle. In County Down, Tyrella, Murlough and Cranfield are all on the South Down coast. It is advised to apply for an area, not a particular beach.

You can find information here

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Both Portrush RNLI lifeboats were launched within an hour of each other to separate incidents on Northern Ireland’s North Coast this afternoon (Wednesday 24 February).

Initially, the volunteer crew were requested to launch the all-weather lifeboat by Belfast Coastguard at 12.36pm in response to reports of a surfer in difficulty at Castlerock.

While en-route, the crew received notification that the surfer had made it back to the beach unaided and all was well.

When they were returning to station, they were re-tasked to reports of two persons who had been swept off the rocks just between Portrush and Portstewart.

The all-weather crew requested that the inshore lifeboat was also launched as the casualties were reported to be close to the rocks.

Conditions and visibility today were good which helped both boats to make good time.

However again, before the ILB arrived on scene, the two persons had been able to get back onto the rocks without assistance from the volunteer lifeboat crews.

Beni McAllister, lifeboat operations manager at Portrush RNLI, said: “Although both boats were launched today and were stood down on both shouts, we would ask that if people feel that there is someone in difficulty in the sea, that they dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.

“We have said this before, but our crews would rather be safe than sorry.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Courtmacsherry RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat was called out yesterday afternoon (Sunday 21 February) to a surfer in difficulty off Garrettstown Beach near the Old Head of Kinsale.

The Trent class lifeboat with a crew of five was under way within minutes of the 3.40pm call.

However, upon reaching the scene less than 15 minutes later, they learned that the surfer had managed to get ashore with the help of family members.

“It was great to see the fast response of so many of our volunteer crew again today, when their bleepers activated, which ensured that we were at the scene very quickly,” said Brian O'Dwyer, Courtmacsherry RNLI volunteer lifeboat operations manager.

Elsewhere, Fenit RNLI’s volunteer crew were tasked around 1pm to reports of two upturned kayaks in the Banna Strand area.

The station launched both its all-weather and inshore lifeboats, with a full crew on both vessels.

File image of Fenit RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat (Photo: RNLI/Fenit)File image of Fenit RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat | Photo: RNLI/Fenit

On arrival at the scene of the reported sighting, the lifeboat crews were advised that the occupants of the kayaks were safe and accounted for, and their kayaks washed ashore shortly afterwards.

Fenit lifeboat press officer Jackie Murphy said the volunteers “were delighted that there was a safe and positive outcome for all concerned”.

Meanwhile, the RNLI stresses to all those taking part in any water activities or planning a visit to the coast during this extended lockdown to follow its water safety advice below, along with all new Government regulations, and stay safe in these different times for all rescue services:

  • Have a plan — check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage.
  • Keep a close eye on your family — on the beach, on the shoreline and in the water.
  • Don’t allow your family to swim alone.
  • Don’t use inflatables at all, at all on the sea.
  • Make sure to wear a lifejacket at all times when taking to the sea in a boat.
  • 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 or 112 immediately and ask for the coastguard. The rescue services are there to help you all.
Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Courtown RNLI braved difficult sea conditions to recover a small boat that ran aground north of Cahore Harbour in Co Wexford yesterday, Sunday 21 February.

Lifeboat volunteers were called at 3.45pm to the vessel with three on board, which had reportedly lost power around a mile north of Cahore Harbour at Glasscarrig Beach.

Courtown RNLI reports that arriving at the scene in the inshore lifeboat, its crew learned that the boat had lost power soon after launch, and had subsequently washed up on the beach and rocks.

All three occupants had managed to get safely ashore in the meantime. But recovery of their boat proved difficult due to the choppy conditions at sea.

A tow line was eventually secured and the boat was towed back to Cahore Pier by Cahore Inshore Rescue, who also attended the scene.

Speaking after the callout, Courtown RNLI lifeboat operations manager Sam Kennedy said: “It was great to see that the three people managed to get to shore safely.

“Our crew responded readily today and adhered to all Covid-19 guidelines currently in place at Courtown RNLI.”

The inshore lifeboat on this callout was helmed by Peter Browne with crew members Fergus Slevin and Cormac Kinsella.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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As the RNLI continues to operate as normal during the Covid-19 pandemic, the charity is still unable to fundraise out in person in the community.

With more people needing the lifeboat crews as they stay home, support from the public is more important than ever — and Carrybridge RNLI in Northern Ireland is one unit that has risen to the challenge by making it easier for people to back their vital work.

The RNLI operates two lifeboat stations for Upper and Lower Lough Erne, at Carrybridge and Enniskillen respectively, and has seen a drop in funds raised locally in 2020 as traditional fundraising activities had to be cancelled.

In many cases, when the lifeboat pager goes off, volunteers will need to abandon homeschooling or work and head to the lifeboat station to answer the call for help.

Stephen Scott, lifeboat operations manager at Carrybridge RNLI, says: “We couldn’t do what we do without the support of the public. The RNLI has experienced a drop in funds locally, but we are rescuing more people than ever before.

“We are facing challenging times and are calling on people to consider making a donation this year to ensure we can continue saving lives on inland waters.

“We have moved our fundraising online in these challenging times and set up a JustGiving page for the lifeboat station where people can donate directly to their local lifeboat station in Carrybridge.”

To support the RNLI at Carrybridge, helping to ensure the charity’s brave volunteers can continue saving lives on Lough Erne, visit their JustGiving page HERE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

A dog and his walker were rescued after they got cut off by the tide at Sandymount this afternoon (Thursday 4 February).

Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s inshore lifeboat assisted with recovering the duo from the water and bringing them to safety at Poolbeg beach.

National Ambulance Service paramedics arrived to give the owner a medical check-up.

At the same time, an Irish Coast Guard member and a paramedic gave Hugo the dog some TLC after his dramatic experience, as Hugo can’t swim.

Dun Laoghaire’s coastguard unit reminds the public if you see anyone in difficulty in or near the water, dial 112/999 immediately and ask for the coastguard.

Published in Rescue
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