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Cork South West TD Christopher O’Sullivan has confirmed that he has arranged for a meeting to take place between Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue and Cork County Council management to discuss a funding mechanism for the repair and extension of the old pier at Keelbeg in Union Hall.

It is hoped that some members of the local campaign to save the West Cork pier will also attend.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the decision was made to close the Keelbeg pier to public access in April 2022 “in order to improve safety”, a move that was met with dismay from the local community.

Deputy O’Sullivan said: “There was great positivity at the meeting in Keelbeg Pier last Saturday [10 February] and I want to once again commend the activism and vigilance of the community down there who have so far prevented access from being cut off to the pier.

“It is high time that we had a clear plan for the repair and extension of the old pier at Union Hall. It is such an important facility for locals, rowing club, marine leisure, whale watching boats, as well as some small local fishing boats.”

The cost of the project is estimated at around €1.5 million, but no funding has yet been secured for these works.

Deputy O’Sullivan added: “This is a very unique project. The big advantage for Keelbeg is that it is mentioned on the Government’s National Development Plan. For me this opens up an opportunity for a special fund to be identified to repair and extend the pier.

“I am happy to confirm that I have spoken to both management in Cork County Council as well as the ,inister and they have agreed to sit around a table to discuss a funding mechanism. This meeting will happen as soon as possible.

“There is a long process ahead in terms of planning permissions, foreshore licences and design, but we need to start somewhere.”

Published in West Cork
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In the latest edition of 200 Voices, the RNLI podcast, Pamela Deasy has vivid memories of January 2012 the loss of five crew on a fishing trawler in Glandore Harbour and the subsequent establishment of a lifeboat station at Union Hall, West Cork.

In My Lifeline, which became available on Thursday, 25 January, Pamela, who is a volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer at Union Hall RNLI, remembers the morning the ‘Tit Bonhomme’ foundered on Adam Island at the entrance to Glandore Harbour with the loss of five crew. She recalls the month-long search to recover the bodies of the lost fishermen and a letter she wrote to the RNLI appealing for a lifeboat station at Union Hall.

This year, in September 2024, Union Hall RNLI will celebrate its 10th birthday, supported by a team of volunteers and fantastic community support and fundraising.

In 2019, Pamela was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and in the podcast, which marks 200 years of the RNLI, she tells the story of her personal battle and recovery supported by the ‘RNLI family’ and eased by the comforting presence of the sea.

The unique podcast series hears from people connected to the RNLI in Ireland and those whose lives have been touched by the lifesaving charity. Hear from locals with a special kinship to their lifeboat station, a crew member who’s been on service for a generation, or the family of someone rescued by an RNLI frontline lifesaver – each episode is sure to take the listener on a journey through a touching story.

Available across all podcast platforms and the RNLI’s website, listeners can hear from survivors, supporters, volunteers, lifeguards, celebrity ambassadors, historians and many more from across Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland and beyond.

Listen to the RNLI’s 200 Voices, wherever you get your podcasts or at RNLI.org/200Voices.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The volunteer crew at Union Hall RNLI Lifeboat were requested to launch their inshore Atlantic 85 class lifeboat Christine and Raymond Fielding, by Valentia Coast Guard at 9.52 pm on Friday, 2nd September to a 35ft yacht with two people onboard, that had got into difficulty three-quarters of a mile west of Galley Head, in West Cork.

This is the second call out in three days for the volunteers at Union Hall.

The lifeboat under helm Aodh O’Donnell with crew Chris Collins, Sean Walsh and Ríona Casey launched at 10.00 pm, in a westerly force 4 wind.

Crew and shore crew from left to right - John O'Donovan, Chris Collins, Ríona Casey, Aodh O'Donnell, Sean Walsh, Niamh Collins and John Kelleher.Crew and shore crew from left to right - John O'Donovan, Chris Collins, Ríona Casey, Aodh O'Donnell, Sean Walsh, Niamh Collins and John Kelleher

The two onboard had called for assistance due to engine failure and freshening weather conditions. A line was attached and the lifeboat towed the yacht to the nearest safe and suitable port of Union Hall, arriving back to the lifeboat Station at 00.05 am (Saturday morning).

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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 with crew members Charlie Deasy and Richie O’Mahony, was under way just five minutes later, headed to the vessel which was between High and Low Island just outside Glandore Harbour.

Once on scene, the person in the punt told the lifeboat crew that the wind had picked up and they were hit by a squall, so they decided to call for help.

Conditions at sea at the time had a Force 4/5 westerly wind with a one-metre swell, so the lifeboat escorted the punt to the nearest safe and suitable port of Carrigillihy Bay.

Commenting later, Hurley said: “The person did everything right; they were wearing a lifejacket and called for assistance when the wind picked up.

“Our advice is when going out on the water ensure that everyone is wearing a lifejacket, carrying a means of communication, wearing suitable clothing. Also, let someone know where you are going and what time to expect you back.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The volunteers at Union Hall RNLI received a cheque recently for over $500 from a group of Irish emigrants in the USA.

Volunteer fundraiser Pamela Deasy travelled to Kinsale recently and met John Farley, who resides in San Francisco, and his friend John O’Mahony, a volunteer deputy launching authority at Kinsale RNLI, to receive a cheque on behalf of McCarthy’s Bar in San Francisco.

McCarthy’s Bar is owned by Eileen McCarthy from Drinagh in West Cork, and its patrons last year raised over $5,000 in aid of the Kinsale lifeboat, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

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

Deasy said: “On behalf of all our team, we wish to thank Eileen and John for thinking of us in Union Hall. This donation will help us greatly.

“With three callouts in the last two weeks, this donation will help with training costs for our volunteers, as it costs roughly €1,557 per crew member annually.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Union Hall RNLI  was paged by Valentia Coast Guard and launched at 3.17 pm on Monday (8th August) to reports of an overdue boat, that had left Ring pier, at 10 am with one person onboard.

Launching in flat calm conditions with excellent visibility, the lifeboat under helm Chris Collins with crew members Tim Forde, Stephen Hurley and Johnny McKenna, left Glandore harbour heading for Ring, which is located at the head of Clonakilty Bay in West Cork. While en route to where the casualty vessel was reported, they heard that the punt was being escorted into the nearest safe port of Ring by another boat in the area. The volunteers at Union Hall continued to meet up with the two boats, who were happy to proceed into Ring themselves. The lifeboat returned to Union Hall Lifeboat Station at 4.10 pm.

Jim Moloney, Union Hall RNLI Deputy Launching Authority said: ‘In the current warm weather spell, it is so important when going out on the water, to ensure that everybody is wearing a lifejacket, that they carry a means of communication, a mobile phone or we recommend a VHF, wearing suitable clothing and that they let someone know where they are going and what time they are expected back. Luckily the person on board had let someone on shore know what time to expect them back, and when this time had passed, the alarm was raised, and help was quickly on hand.’

Crew and shore crew - left to right - Niamh Collins, Chris Collins, Stephen Hurley, Tim Forde, Denis O’Donovan, Johnny Mc’Kenna, John O’Donovan and Jim Moloney Photo: RNLI/Pamela DeasyUnion Hall Crew and shore crew - left to right - Niamh Collins, Chris Collins, Stephen Hurley, Tim Forde, Denis O’Donovan, Johnny Mc’Kenna, John O’Donovan and Jim Moloney Photo: RNLI/Pamela Deasy

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The volunteer crew at Union Hall RNLI in West Cork answered the second callout in three days when they were requested to launch their inshore Atlantic 85 class lifeboat by Valentia Coast Guard at 4.28 pm today (Friday 29th July) to a 9m yacht with four people onboard, that had got difficulty a mile south of Galley Head, in West Cork

The lifeboat under helm Michael Limrick with crew Sean Walsh, Ríona Casey and Charlie Deasy launched at 4.34 pm, in a westerly breeze with moderate sea conditions at the time.

Once on scene, an assessment was carried out by the crew and due to the yacht being tangled in a lobster buoy, the rope was cut so that the boat could drift free, and the buoy was reattached to the rope.

The four onboard the yacht, thanked the crew and were happy to continue themselves, and the lifeboat returned to Union Hall Lifeboat Station at 5.11 pm

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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On Wednesday morning (27th July), after a phone call from a member of the public to the on-call Union Hall RNLI Launch Authority, to say a yacht was in difficulty at the outer Dangers in Glandore harbour, Valentia Coast Guard requested the volunteer crew to launch their inshore Atlantic 85 lifeboat Christine and Raymond Fielding at 08.55 am

The lifeboat under helm Tim Forde with crew Charlie Deasy, Stephen Hurley and Killian O’Kelly, RNLI Water Safety Education Manager who is also a helm at Bundoran RNLI, launched at 09.10 am, in flat calm sea conditions, once on scene, an assessment was carried out by our crew and due to the yacht being aground, two of the passengers were taken onto the lifeboat, while one remained aboard, and the lifeboat was stood down and returned to the pier at Union Hall.

At 13.30 pm Chris Collins and Riona Casey under helm Tim Forde returned to the vessel to assist in re-floating, the yacht was afloat at 14.10 pm and left at the safety of a mooring in Glandore at 14.25pm.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Volunteers at Union Hall RNLI in West Cork held a special ceremony and service of dedication on Saturday (25 June) for their Atlantic 85 lifeboat, Christine and Raymond Fielding.

A crowd gathered on Keelbeg Pier for a special ceremony and service of dedication to name Union Hall RNLI’s Atlantic 85 lifeboat, ‘Christine and Raymond Fielding.’

The funding for the lifeboat came from the late Dr. Raymond Fielding, a keen mariner and proud Corkman. While Raymond and his wife Christine did not live to see the lifeboat put into service, Raymond asked that it bear both their names.

RNLI Trustee John Killeen (left) and Vice President Peter Crowley Photo: Bob BatemanRNLI Trustee John Killeen (left) and Vice President Peter Crowley Photo: Bob Bateman

The lifeboat has been on service since June 2021, but the ceremony was postponed to allow the community to celebrate together. The lifeboat was officially handed into the care of the Institution by Eddie Fitzgerald, a close friend of Mr. and Mrs. Fielding. The couple were described by Mr. Fitzgerald as a great team who had been married for 48 years before Christine predeceased Raymond. The Fieldings loved sailing, spending a great deal of time off West Cork, in particular.

RNLI Trustee, John Killeen accepted the lifeboat from Mr. Fitzgerald, on behalf of the charity, before giving it into the care of Union Hall Lifeboat Station, who were represented by Deputy Launching Authority, Peter Deasy. Speaking during the handover, John Killeen said, ‘All of us in the RNLI are one crew and we need the tools of the trade to carry out our lifesaving work. One part of that is the lifeboat, while the other is our volunteers. The lifeboat crew give a lot of their time and take a risk in going out to save people. It’s a fantastic day for the community here in Union Hall.’

In accepting the lifeboat on behalf of the station Deputy Launching Authority Peter Deasy added, ‘While we’re sad to say farewell to our former lifeboat ‘Margaret Bench of Solihull,’ which has served the station faithfully for five years, we look forward to writing a new chapter in the station’s history with the arrival of this new Atlantic class lifeboat.’

‘This Atlantic class lifeboat means that we now have the latest and finest rescue equipment available. I know that when the crews head out to sea, we will have peace of mind that this lifeboat will help to keep them safe. We also remember today the people who worked so hard in setting up this Station and who sadly are no longer with us, particularly Paddy O’Donovan, our former Chairperson of the lifeboat station, who was passionate about establishing a lifeboat here.’

Royal Cork sailors (from left), Amy Mockler, Dick Gibson and Hugh Mockler Photo: Bob BatemanRoyal Cork sailors (from left), Amy Mockler, Dick Gibson and Hugh Mockler Photo: Bob Bateman

A service of dedication was led by Reverend Chris Peters and Father Gerard Thornton. Following this, the lifeboat was officially named by Bill Deasy, Union Hall RNLI boathouse Manager, with the occasion being marked by Helm Chris Collins pouring champagne over the bow of the lifeboat.

A vote of thanks was delivered by Brian Crowley, Chairperson of Union Hall RNLI. Music for the ceremony was provided by St Fachtna’s Silver Band and The Union Hall and Castlehaven Parish Choir. MC for the event was Fundraising Chairperson Carmel McKenna.

The Atlantic 85 class lifeboat is one of the fastest vessels in the fleet; with a top speed is 35 knots. Designed to operate in shallower water, the B class can handle challenging open sea conditions. It is ideal for rescues close to shore, near cliffs and rocks and areas inaccessible to all-weather lifeboats. It is also capable of being beached in an emergency without sustaining damage to the engines. In addition to night vision equipment, the B class lifeboat carries a searchlight and parachute illuminating flares to light up the surrounding area, helping to keep crew members safe as well as locate those in need of help. The B class has a manually operated righting mechanism in the event of a capsize which involves inflating a bag on top of the roll bar. The engines are inversion-proofed so that they shut down should the lifeboat capsize and can be restarted after she has been righted.

The Atlantic 85 class lifeboat Christine and Raymond Fielding replaces the Atlantic 75 lifeboat, Margaret Bench of Solihull, which had been on service since 2017. Before this, the lifeboat Maritime Nation was in service from 2014. Both lifeboats came from the RNLI’s relief fleet, making the Christine and Raymond Fielding the first lifeboat to be built especially for service at Union Hall RNLI. Since the station opened in 2014 Union Hall RNLI have launched 68 times and brought 98 people to safety.

Union Hall RNLI Lifeboat Photo Gallery By Bob Bateman

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Union Hall RNLI has expressed its gratitude to Laura Goggin and Colin McCarthy of Bank of Ireland in Clonakilty, who both nominated the West Cork lifeboat station for their employer’s Begin Together Fund.

Bank of Ireland’s Begin Together Fund was developed to enable colleagues to support causes that matter to them by donating to vulnerable communities in the places where they live and work.

Both Laura and Colin donated their €500 to Union Hall RNLI, so €1,000 in total will now go towards crew training — a crucial aspect of any station’s lifesaving efforts.

The volunteer team at the station said they wish to thank them for becoming lifesavers and helping to power the charity’s lifesaving work in saving lives at sea and on inland waterways.

The Begin Together Fund for Colleagues is one element of Bank of Ireland’s Begin Together programme which supports charities, arts organisations, community groups and not-for-profits that have a vision for their communities.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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About Pamela Lee, Irish Offshore Sailor

Ireland has produced some of the world’s most dedicated offshore sailors, and Pamela Lee of Greystones is one of them. She has made a name for herself in the sailing world, having worked as a mate on a charter Super-yacht for two and a half years. After coming ashore, she has been fully committed to her offshore sailing ambitions since 2019.

Lee has raced in various craft, including Figaro 3s, Class 40, Tp 52s, and multihulls, and has eight transatlantic crossings under her belt. In partnership with Kenny Rumball, Lee supported Rumball’s La Solitaire du Figaro sailing campaign to secure the Irish berth in the proposed Mixed Offshore Keelboat event for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

One of Lee’s stated main aims is to promote female empowerment in sport, and she set out to establish a double-handed Round Ireland speed record with Englishwoman Cat Hunt in the winter of 2020. This campaign gained much publicity, and Lee expressed pride in bringing sailing and offshore sailing, in particular, into the conversation for 2020.

To further her offshore sailing career, Lee moved to France, where she has recently secured a place to skipper a yacht in the Transat Jacques Vabre Challenge in October 2023. Lee’s passion and dedication to offshore sailing are inspiring, and her achievements are a testament to her hard work and perseverance.