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A Donegal cyclist is set to embark on a mammoth world-record cycle attempt, riding unsupported from Malin to Mizen — a 1,225km route from one end of Ireland to the other — and back.

The gruelling non-stop ride is set to be a test of endurance but also a fundraising effort from Karol McNern from Ballyshannon, who is a former lifeboat crew member and helm at Bundoran RNLI.

The Co Donegal lifeboat station is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year while the charity is marking its 200th anniversary.

Karol’s ambitious ride aims to break both the World UltraCycling Association (WUCA) record and a Guinness World Record, drawing attention to the lifesaving work of Bundoran RNLI.

The funds raised will go directly to supporting the work of the volunteer crew in saving lives at sea.

Karol said: “Having served as a crew member and a helm, I know first hand the importance of the lifeboat service to a community. This ride is my way of giving back and raising awareness for the incredible work all the Bundoran team do.”

The ride will commence at Malin Head, the northernmost point of Ireland, continue onto Mizen Head, the southernmost point and then return back up the country to Malin Head.

Karol will face various challenges including unpredictable weather conditions, rugged terrain and the sheer physical and mental demands of cycling non-stop across such a vast distance. He will continue this journey unsupported, making it an even tougher challenge.

Supporters can make a donation and follow Karol’s progress through live updates on social media and contribute to his fundraising campaign.

Daimon Fergus, Bundoran RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “We are incredibly grateful to Karol for thinking of us in this way and we wish him the best of luck as he takes on this challenge. His journey is an inspiration to us all and highlights his dedication, resilience and a sense of community spirit.

“Donations from Karol’s cycle will go towards helping us maintain our lifeboat and associated equipment as well as supporting the training of our crew members, and the overall operational costs.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

A Wexford woman living on the Hook Peninsula has been inspired to create a new fundraising initiative for the RNLI, which also promotes the benefits of being by the sea.

Local artist Helen Mason, who is married to a local fisherman, started to raise funds for the lifeboat charity after experiencing losing someone close to her to drowning and seeing first-hand the work of the lifeboat volunteers in her area.

Be by the Sea is asking people to organise a gathering in their own community during the summer months, to fundraise in aid of the charity that saves lives at sea.

People can organise to meet for a swim, a walk or a hike or they may choose to meditate, fly kites, or build sandcastles. They can even just sit together enjoying a coffee and having the craic.

Commenting on the fundraiser, Helen said: “I had the idea to do this for some time before I finally approached the RNLI and asked them if I could do it myself and see where it goes.

“I have been raising money for my local lifeboat station in Fethard over the years and I have seen first-hand the work they do and know how important the lifeboats are for coastal communities. The volunteers who go out when others come home are incredible people and I want to help them continue their work, saving lives at sea.

“I’m married to a fisherman and sadly we have lost people close to us. I want the Be by the Sea fundraiser to be open to everyone and to be fully inclusive. We know that people love spending time near the water and that the sea is very good for us, so how about raising funds for the RNLI at the same time.”

Be by the Sea, is a ‘Fundraising In Aid of’ event for the RNLI and those interested to learn more can visit the initiative’s JustGiving page where they can also register their event with the RNLI. Once onboard, people can choose to share their photos and videos of their event to Instagram.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Applications are now open to become one of the RNLI’s face-to-face fundraisers along the Causeway Coast in Antrim, and in counties Down and Dublin.

This vital role helps the lifesaving charity reach thousands of people every year, sharing safety messages and encouraging new supporters to sign up and donate.

A role within the RNLI’s face-to-face fundraising team offers flexible working in some great locations. Fundraisers receive full, high-quality training and competitive rates of pay while also developing valuable professional and personal skills.

One person who knows very well the impact that funds raised can have is Gill McIlmoyle from Portstewart. A former bank manager, she joined the RNLI’s face-to-face fundraising team in 2021.

“There are a variety of reasons why people choose to work for the charity but for me,” Gill says, “I was at a stage in my life where I wanted to do something that really mattered to me, something that was worthwhile and having grown up alongside the coast, I was always aware of the lifesaving work of the RNLI.

“I enjoy meeting and interacting with different people everyday. You get the opportunity to work in lots of different areas, very often the most beautiful parts of the country and you get to enjoy the outdoors.”

For Gill, a real highlight of the job is when she has the privilege to hear and listen to the personal stories of those who have been touched by the RNLI.

“I have met so many people whose lives have been impacted in different ways by the work of the RNLI,” she says. “The stories I have heard from people I have met along the way are personal — from those who have been rescued or who know someone who has been rescued to those who may have lost a loved one but who are grateful to the RNLI for bringing their loved one home.

“It gives me a great sense of pride and satisfaction to be part of a team which is responsible for successfully raising funds that make a difference in this way. The fact that you know your contribution helps to keep volunteer crews safe and equipped with essential lifesaving kit and training and that it helps to keep lifeboats fuelled and maintained, is rewarding. This is turn helps our crew to continue their work in saving lives at sea.”

The funds raised by Gill and her colleagues are vital in supporting the RNLI’s lifesaving service. The charity, which recently celebrated its 200th anniversary, operates 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland and operates a lifeguard service along the Causeway Coast and in Co Down in Northern Ireland.

Neal Somerville, face-to-face fundraising manager at the RNLI, said: “Our face-to-face fundraiser roles are the perfect fit for anyone who is friendly, energetic and able to talk to anyone. It really is a vital role in supporting the RNLI’s lifesaving work, sharing safety advice with thousands of beach visitors every summer, as well as inspiring them to support our lifesavers with a donation.

“This year is a particularly exciting time to be considering becoming part of the RNLI family, as the charity marks two hundred years of saving lives at sea. I’d encourage anyone, no matter what career you are considering, to take up the challenge and apply for a face-to-face fundraising role.”

To apply or find out more, visit rnli.org/FundraiserJobs.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Celebrity chef Glen Wheeler from 28 At The Hollow will cook up a delicious menu at Enniskillen RNLI’s lifeboat station at 7pm on Monday 29 April.

The culinary masterclass is in aid of the Enniskillen lifeboat and tickets for the event are £15. Get yours via the evening’s Eventbrite page or via the Northern Ireland phone contacts in the event poster above.

Enniskillen RNLI is also calling on members of the public to support the RNLI’s Mayday fundraising campaign, after revealing they launched 17 times last year on Lough Erne — as did their neighbours at Carrybridge RNLI.

The RNLI’s Mayday fundraiser begins on Monday 1 May and will run for the whole month across Ireland and the UK. Afloat.ie has more on the initiative HERE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Frank Mullen won’t let Parkinson’s disease deter him from completing an epic 300km paddle of the River Shannon by kayak this summer.

As Dublin Live reports, the 61-year-old Donabate man will set out on 28 June on a planned 10-day adventure to paddle the length of Ireland’s longest river.

Mullen will be embarking on the challenge to raise funds for Parkinson’s Ireland, which has supported him since his diagnosis last year.

Following his neurologist’s advice to “do more” of whatever he does to keep fit, Mullen says: “Exercise these days can be really be looked on as a form of medicine. As a kayaker, I always thought I’d love to do something unusual or challenging in kayaking.”

Dublin Live has more on the story HERE.

Published in Kayaking

Cyclists will ‘Lap the Lake’ for the third year running to raise funds for Lough Derg RNLI on Saturday 11 May.

With Lough Derg RNLI marking 20 years of lifeboat service on the lake in the same year that the charity that saves lives at sea celebrates its bicentenary, the 2024 fundraiser will be a doubly special occasion.

As with the 2023 event, cyclists may again choose between a 120km route or a shorter 65km one.

The longer route will take participants on a full circuit of Lough Derg, giving entrants the chance to cycle through three counties: Tipperary, Clare and Galway. The shorter route will take cyclists to just beyond Killaloe, to a turnaround point at the Twomilegate lakeside amenity park.

Whichever route riders chose, they will have the opportunity to delight in the outstanding beauty of the lake and the River Shannon.

Riders’ safety and well-being is also a priority, with first-aid providers, out-riders, marshals and bike maintenance stops along the routes, as well as comfort and refreshment stations.

“We were thrilled with the success of the previous two years’ Lap the Lake cycle,” said Laura Clarke, chair of the event committee. “We were blessed with fine weather so that cyclists were able to enjoy the most breathtaking scenery around the lake.

“2024 is a particularly special year for the RNLI as the charity marks 200 years of lifesaving work. This event, now open for registration, is about raising funds for our local lifeboat on Lough Derg, which celebrates 20 years of service.”

Event tickets are €65 per person for the full route and €50 for the shorter route. All funds raised will go to Lough Derg RNLI. To find out more and to book your place among the riders this year, visit the Eventbrite page HERE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

A Little Book of Happy Swimming Locations is a new guide to some of the hidden gems and well-known spots ‘for taking a dip’ all around Ireland.

Launched last month, this is the second book on the theme by open water swimmer Catherine Mulcahy. In 2021 her first book, A Little Book of Swimming Happiness, was a great success and raised over €10,000 for the RNLI.

Speaking of her love for open water swimming, the author says: “As long as I remember I have loved the sea. My mother initially introduced me to sea swimming at The Strand when I was a toddler, a local swim spot near our family home in Cork. This ‘grá’ for the sea has since evolved into a genuinely unconditional love!”

A Little Book of Happy Swimming Locations celebrates swimming around Ireland and features 50 contributors favourite swim spots.

The book is beautifully presented with photographs and commentary from swimmers who share their favourite swimming spots with the readers.

The book has a cover price of €20 with 100% of the proceeds going to the RNLI. It is available online from Nourish at and also available to purchase in-store in south Co Dublin at 64 Wine and Cavistons in Glasthule village and Cafe du Journal in Monkstown. All stockists are selling the book at 0% commission.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

A long-standing volunteer fundraiser for Achill Island RNLI has been honoured by the charity’s chief executive for her generous support of the Co Mayo lifeboat station and its work in saving lives at sea.

Alexandra Van Tuyll, who has been volunteering for the charity that saves lives at sea since 1999, was presented with a framed Certificate of Thanks by the RNLI’s head of region Anna Classon during a recent visit to the lifeboat station.

The award — which was arranged by the chairperson of the Fundraising Branch, Anthony McNamara — came as a surprise to Alexandra, who was honoured in front of many of her fellow fundraising volunteers and the coxswain and mechanic of the island lifeboat station.

The official citation records that Alexandra Van Tuyll is awarded the RNLI’s Certificate of Thanks in recognition of her generous support of Achill Island Lifeboat Station since 1999.

Alexandra Van Tuyll with RNLI head of region Anna Classon, fundraising volunteers and representatives from station management and operational lifeboat crew | Credit: RNLI/Niamh StephensonAlexandra Van Tuyll with RNLI head of region Anna Classon, fundraising volunteers and representatives from station management and operational lifeboat crew | Credit: RNLI/Niamh Stephenson

Her contributions have included Christmas card sales, art exhibitions and donations. In 2012, she produced a book titled Sea meets Land: Around Ireland In Aid of the RNLI, showcasing her extensive visits to the stations around the coast of Ireland. Her valued contributions help the RNLI to save lives.

Speaking on presenting Alexandra with her award, Anna Classon said: “I feel I have come full circle in presenting this award. I started my career with the RNLI as a fundraising manager on the West Coast of Ireland and Alexandra was someone I came to know early on in that role.

“The lifeboat is a hugely important part of this community and having a fundraising group who will step up and support the lifeboat crew, to ensure that they can save lives at sea, means that this work continues. From the range of fundraising activities that Alexandra has supported and continues to champion, that future is in good hands. This recognition is very much deserved and I am delighted to be here to present it.”

Adding his thanks on behalf of the Achill Island RNLI fundraising branch, Anthony McNamara said: “This is a fitting tribute to the work Alexandra does on behalf of the lifeboat service here in Achill. We have a wonderful team and the community are very generous in their support of our lifeboat crew. We couldn’t do it without volunteers like Alexandra and her endless enthusiasm and dedication for raising vital funds for saving lives at sea. Long may it continue.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

As the RNLI launches its annual Christmas fundraising appeal, with a focus on the generations of families who have volunteered their time and commitment to ensure the charity’s lifesaving service has continued for nearly 200 years, there will be a new coxswain this Christmas on the Aran Islands.

Aonghus Ó hIarnáin started volunteering with the RNLI at 17 and always had a desire to move up in the organisation and become a coxswain.

“When my fiancée Treasa and I had moved home from Australia and then had our daughter, I had to start working away on ferries and research vessels as an engineer again,“ he says. “This wasn’t ideal as I was spending a lot of time away.

“When the coxswain job came, I committed myself to training and preparing for the job. I was fortunate to be offered the job then which I gladly accepted. It suits us as we want to stay on the island to raise the family and stay close to both our parents and this job allows us to do so.”

As coxswain, Aonghus is in charge of the lifeboat and her crew at sea and as such, he is all too aware of the importance of training.

Aran Islands RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Aran IslandsAran Islands RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Aran Islands

“Regular training for everyone on the crew is important,” he says. “Everyone needs to get familiar with the person they are onboard with so that when a call out comes, you know that the person next to you is going to do their part correctly and safely.

“It is rare that the same crew do two call-outs after each other, so knowing that no matter who shows up, they have the same standard of training is important for the search and rescue capability of the station. It allows the coxswain on the day to have full confidence in the crew and allows the crew to have full confidence in whichever coxswain is in command on the day.

“Allowing the crew to get as much time on the lifeboat as possible is important. Practice makes perfect and when you see a trained person in an emergency, its shows by the level of calmness they have at that critical time.”

The role of full-time coxswain can be busy, says Aonghus: “The job is demanding time-wise, and it is difficult for the family more so. There have been several times where we plan on going for dinner, for example, only for the pager to go off and then you are gone for a few hours.

“There is a need to know where somebody is at all times. For example, on a weekend if Treasa goes for a walk or to the shop and I have our baby on my own, if the pager goes off then we need a plan for where Treasa is gone so that I can collect her with our baby and then they come to the station with me and take my car or that I bring the baby to the station and get Treasa’s parents, who are living close the station, to collect her. This is the side that people don’t see when you are full-time on call.

“Credit goes to Treasa for adapting to this and having patience with me as the demands of the job take me at uncertain times day or night. Without her support, it wouldn’t have been possible to take this job and make it work. She understands how vital the RNLI is to the island and the west coast and that we signed up to help keep it going.”

‘For the time you give at the RNLI, you will receive good training, good memories, and a great sense of achievement after every call as you know you are making a difference’

As for what he finds most rewarding, Aonghus says it’s a combination of the people you meet, the training and skills you gain and the opportunity to make a difference.

“You also have the chance to work alongside members of the community ranging in ages and experiences and backgrounds that you would normally never get the chance to work with,” he says. “Along with this, you are keeping a vital lifesaving service going on an island which needs it.

“For the time you give at the RNLI, you will receive good training, good memories, and a great sense of achievement after every call as you know you are making a difference. I started my journey in the RNLI 13 years ago and I have never looked back and it has served me well.”

Whatever weather winter throws at them, RNLI crew members like those on the Aran Islands are ready to battle the elements to save lives at sea. Their rescues are only made possible by the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training and equipment needed by lifeboat crews.

As he prepares for his first Christmas on call as coxswain, Aonghus says: “There’s no feeling quite like bringing someone home safe to their families — especially at Christmas. But as crew we couldn’t launch our lifeboat without kind donations from the public which fund the kit, training and equipment we need to save others and get home safely to our own families.”

To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal, and enable the charity to continue its lifesaving work, visit RNLI.org/WinterAppeal.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

At a recent awards ceremony, some 14 members of Clifden RNLI’s fundraising branch received long service medals recognising their combined 400 years of fundraising in Connemara.

As a fully independent charity organisation, the RNLI relies on donations to fund its lifesaving work. The Clifden lifeboat crew are on call 24/7 but they require ongoing training, well maintained equipment, lifeboats and shore equipment to carry out their mission of saving lives at sea.

None of this would be possible without the dedication, commitment and drive of our local fundraisers who have each dedicated many years to supporting their local coastal community.

The commitment and selflessness of Clifden’s fundraising volunteers was acknowledged by Danny Curran, RNLI regional engagement manager.

Speaking at the ceremony, he said: “I know how much thought and effort goes in raising every euro for our charity and I’m extremely grateful to the volunteers here today who have worked tirelessly on this goal for decades. In rain, hail and snow; every week, every month, every year, you have ensured we can keep our life saving services running.

“These awards are not just to celebrate the fundraising volunteers for their incredible achievements over many years but also their families and friends who play a key role in supporting our work.”

Long service award recipients include Padraig Mc Donagh from Kilkerrin who is the longest serving fundraiser in the branch, having dedicated an incredible 55 years to Clifden RNLI; Eileen and Oliver Coyne from Cleggan, who are responsible for the legendary RNLI Christmas hamper raffle; and Anne Marie Bennett, outgoing chair of the fundraising branch and highly valued RNLI volunteer.

A special moment was observed for Lavinia Joyce who sadly passed away in August this year. Lavinia was the first chairperson of the Clifden/Connemara fundraising branch, or the “Clifden Ladies Guild” as it was known when she joined in 1992. Her enthusiasm, dedication and sense of purpose to be involved with the RNLI was infectious. She was an inspiration to all of us and an absolute lady. Rest in peace, Lavinia.

Clifden RNLI Long Service Awardees 2023:

  • Geraldine Heanue
  • AnneMarie Bennett
  • Padraic Griffin
  • Stewart Freeman
  • Collin Mullen
  • Paraic Mc Donagh
  • Percy Hyland
  • Oliver and Eileen Coyne
  • Jacqueline Hannon
  • Nancy Duffy
  • Lavinia Joyce
  • Ann Day
  • Thomas King
Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Page 1 of 11

Beneteau 211 sailing in Ireland

A small, fast cruiser/racer – in style very much a miniature Open 60 or early Figaro, the Beneteau First 211 offers high sailing performance for her size, plus simple accommodation for up to four people.
The boat is very dinghy-style to sail, although the keel makes her self-righting, and foam buoyancy renders her unsinkable, according to the French manufacturer.

Designed by Groupe Finot and introduced in 1998 as a replacement model for the 1992 model First 210, the Beneteau First 211 is a small high-performance yacht designed to be simple to sail and take the ground or be trailed. The words' pocket rockets' tend to be used to describe these boats!
The design was revised to become the Beneteau First 21.7 in 2005. All three models, 210, 211 and 21.7, are very similar in style and concept and share many actual components.

The hull of the Beneteau First 211 is solid GRP, with sandwich construction for the deck moulding. There is foam buoyancy at the bow and stern, guaranteeing unsinkability. The ballasted drop keel is raised by a manual jack and allows easy transport of the boat and drying out if required, supported level by the twin rudders.
The sailplan has a non-overlapping jib to keep sheet loads down and a large spinnaker to achieve high speeds downwind. With almost six foot of draught with keel down and twin rudders for control, upwind performance is also excellent.

The design is popular in Ireland's boating capital at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, where up to a dozen race as part of a one-design class in regular Dublin Bay Sailing Club racing. The boats also race for national championship honours annually. The boats are kept on Dun Laoghaire Marina and look all the more impressive as the fleet of pocket rocket racers are all moored together on one pontoon.

At A Glance – Beneteau First 211 Specifications

LOA: 6.2m (20ft 4in)

Draught: 1.8m to 0.65m (5ft 11in to 2ft 2in)

Displacement: 1,100kg (2,200lb)

LWL: 6m (19ft 7in)

ARCHITECT
• Finot Conq et Associés

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