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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.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The lifeboat crew at Clogherhead RNLI rescued a lone kayaker over the weekend (Saturday 6 March) after they capsized near the local headland and were unable to get back on their craft due to the sea conditions. A local fishing vessel stood-by as the lifeboat crew made their way to the scene.

The Coast Guard requested the Louth based lifeboat to launch at 1.45 pm and directed them a short distance from the lifeboat station to the local headland, where a lone kayaker had capsized and was struggling to get back on their kayak, due to sea conditions. A local fishing vessel was nearby keeping watch until help arrived, unable to offer assistance as the casualty was dangerously close to the rocks.

On arrival at the scene, the All-Weather lifeboat was manoeuvred into position by the Coxswain and the kayaker was rescued from the water. Conditions were a little challenging with an onshore wind, blowing a force four to five. After taking him onboard, the lifeboat crew brought the kayaker to shore at Port Oriel harbour where they were met by Clogherhead Coast Guard shore-based unit and paramedics.

Commenting on the callout Clogherhead RNLI Deputy Launching Authority Jim Kirk said, ‘Thankfully this was a successful callout that ended well. The kayaker was wearing a lifejacket and had all the correct equipment. With the fishing vessel crew keeping a close eye on him and his short distance from the lifeboat station, the crew were able to reach him quickly and bring him safely ashore. The nearby rocks presented a challenge in reaching him safely but the lifeboat crew train for all types of rescues.’

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It is the end of an era at Clogherhead RNLI as long-serving lifeboat crewmember and station mechanic, Padraig Rath, affectionally known as ‘Pops’ has handed in his pager and officially retired from saving lives at sea this week. After four decades with the lifeboat charity, Pops took part in his last exercise on the lifeboat, which was witnessed by a large turnout made up of lifeboat crew personnel and fundraisers past and present, neighbouring lifeboat crew members along with family, friends, and supporters. It was a fitting send-off for the much-loved lifeboat mechanic who has been a constant and dedicated presence at Clogherhead lifeboat station for many years.

Born into a fishing family, Pops first went to sea as a young student in the summer of 1972. Losing his father at a young age, Pops went into fishing full time on completing his Leaving Cert before joining the Clogherhead lifeboat crew in 1982. He took on the role of Second Mechanic at the lifeboat station in 1991, becoming the Station Mechanic and Deputy 2nd Coxswain in 2000, on the retirement of Paddy Levins. With a young family to rear, Pops relished the role which would keep him in the community and doing what he loved. He was responsible for looking after the engines on the station’s Mersey class lifeboat Doris Bleasdale, making sure the lifeboat was ready to go to sea, night, or day and in any weather.

Last one - Pops (centre) on his last exercise with Clogherhead RNLI Photo:  Thomas CaffreyLast one - Pops (centre) on his last exercise with Clogherhead RNLI Photo: Thomas Caffrey

His years as lifeboat crew have seen many changes and, in his time, the station has had three classes of lifeboats. When he joined the Oakley class was on station, which was followed by the Mersey class, before the latest Shannon class arrived in 2019. The Oakley lifeboat did 8 knots, the Mersey’s speed increased to 16 knots, while the Shannon reaches speeds of 25 knots. Each lifeboat bringing big changes and demands.

Pops has been on many callouts during his time on the lifeboat but the callout that stands out is the one he didn’t make. On holidays with his family in 1999, he rang home for the result of a local match when his mother told him about the Dunany tragedy, where four people drowned and four were rescued, when the boat they were in capsized. It was an enormous tragedy for the community. There was also a callout in 2011, where a group of primary school children who went kayaking, capsized, and ended up in the freezing water, not far from the lifeboat station. The large group were rescued by the lifeboat crew and taken to hospital, after being spotted in the water by the station’s Lifeboat Operations Manager. One of the parents keeps in touch to this day.

Pops has no plans to leave the RNLI behind. He is the station’s GAA Ambassador, a volunteer role for the partnership between the charity and the GAA, which sees the RNLI talking to clubs and supporters locally about water safety. He is also a passionate fundraiser for the lifeboat. While he will now relish the time he can spend with family and the extended breaks he can take time away from the station now that he is not on call.

Commenting on his retirement Clogherhead RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Declan Levins said, ‘I don’t think there are enough words to do justice to Pop’s legacy. The respect and affection the lifeboat crew and fundraisers have for him is clear and he has been the heart of this station for many years. He is so passionate about lifeboating and his enthusiasm for it was infectious. We are indebted to him for all his service, and I’m delighted he is staying involved with fundraising and the GAA/RNLI water safety work.’

Reflecting on his retirement Pops said, ‘I’ve had an amazing time being part of this incredible lifeboat crew and remarkable station. With each new class of lifeboat came new challenges. We were doing twice the speed and I was thinking twice as fast, but I loved it. It was a huge responsibility to make sure that the lifeboat would always bring the crew out to sea and always bring them and all casualties home safe. I’m proud of that. I’ll miss being out on the water but I’m leaving it in the very best of hands. I wish the very best of luck to the Crews, all involved with the station, their families and my successor Barry Sharkey and his family. May they always be safe when answering the “call” and return safely to their families.’

‘The Clogherhead lifeboat doesn’t belong to any one person, it’s the community’s lifeboat. They own it and every time we launch, we do it because they support us, and I hope they are proud of what we do.’

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Eve McMahon's 2021 sailing achievements

  • Irish Sailor of the Year 2021
  • Gold Medallist Youth World Championships Italy Highest Ranked Irish Female 
  • Star Sailors league Silver medal at the Youth European Championships Croatia Gold medallist U19,
  • Silver medallist U21 Senior European Championships Bulgaria Race win Senior European Championships Bulgaria
  • Selected Paris 2024 Olympic Solidarity Scholarship Sport Ireland
  • 15th Senior European Championships Bulgaria, 1st Irish Female, securing Sport Ireland Carding.
  • Youth ISAF World Representative Oman, equivalent to Youth Olympic in sailing,
  • 4th overall Guinness World Record Participant Beach Clean up -
  • Oman Gold medallist U19 Allianz World Cup Netherlands
  • Gold medallist U23 Lanzarote International Regatta 4th
  • U21 European Championships Montenegro
  • Nominated for Irish Sailor of The Year
  • Bronze medallist Connaught's Wexford
  • 9th Silver Fleet European Continental Qualification
  • 5th Pre-Qualifciation regatta Lanzarote