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Displaying items by tag: Bundoran

The volunteer crew of Bundoran RNLI Lifeboat in County Donegal will host an open day at the lifeboat station, which will also incorporate an Emergency Services Open Day.

On the day, subject to operational requirements, the volunteer crew of the lifeboat as well as representatives from locally based emergency services, including the National Ambulance Service, An Garda Siochana, Bundoran Fire & Rescue and Donegal Bay Community First Responders will be on hand to talk to members of the public about the service that they provide and display some of the lifesaving equipment that they use during a callout.

Organiser of the event, volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer Shane Smyth said ‘we first did this in 2019 and had hoped to make it an annual event. We hope that this year will be the start of that! I’d like to thank all of our emergency service colleagues who have agreed to come on board on the day and are taking the time to talk about their particular role or show their piece of lifesaving equipment. If you’re interested in any aspect of our local emergency services then this is an event not to miss.’

The event is free of charge to attend and will take place on the pier at West End, Bundoran from 1-4 pm on Sunday 21st August.

Also present on the day will be the RNLI’s education team who will conduct a lifejacket clinic as well as providing a kid’s educational Water Safety talk and a demonstration of “throw bags”. A popup RNLI shop will also be on hand so that attendees can purchase RNLI souvenirs while supporting the charity.

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A surfer who got into difficulty at Rossnowlagh Beach yesterday afternoon (Sunday 8 May) was brought to safety by the volunteer crew of Bundoran RNLI.

The alarm was raised by a passer-by on the beach shortly after 3 pm. The member of the public who had spotted the surfer in difficulty, alerted the Irish Coast Guard who in turn requested that Bundoran RNLI’s inshore lifeboat be launched. The Irish Coast Guard’s Sligo based Rescue 118 helicopter was also tasked.

The surfer who had entered the water at the Smugglers Creek side of the beach was spotted being blown offshore by a surf instructor who also went to the casualty’s aid.

Weather conditions at the time were described as fair with good visibility.

Arriving on scene at 3.30 pm, the lifeboat with four volunteer crew members onboard, began a search of the area and soon found both the surfer and the surf instructor near Carrickfad rocks, almost 2km from where the surfer had originally entered the water. Both men, who were assessed and found to be safe and well, were brought back to shore by the lifeboat.

Speaking on the lifeboat’s return to the station, Bundoran RNLI Helm Richard Gillespie said: ‘The sea can be very unforgiving and with the wind at a Force 5 at the time, it was fortunate that the surfer was spotted from the shore and that the alarm was raised. We would like to commend the member of the public who did that along with the surf instructor who also went to help.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Tributes were paid last Saturday night (2 April) to five retirees and seven long-service recipients for their commitment and dedication to Bundoran RNLI, which amounts to over 250 years of saving lives at sea at the charity.

The event at the Great Northern Hotel was the first major gathering for the crew since 2019 and marked the retirement of five personnel, including Captain Hugh Anthony ‘Tony’ McGowan as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Other retirements marked on the night included those of Hugh John Patton as deputy launching authority (28 years), Michael Goodwin also as DLA (5 years), fundraiser Frank Bourke (25 years) and DLA Patrick McMorrow.

Seven volunteers received recognition for anywhere between 20 and 25 years of service | Credit: RNLI/BundoranSeven volunteers received recognition for anywhere between 20 and 25 years of service | Credit: RNLI/Bundoran

The long service of seven volunteer lifeboat crew members was also marked, with medals presented by the RNLI’s lifesaving lead for Ireland, Owen Medland.

Recipients of long-service medals were Elliot Kearns (20 years), James Cassidy (21 years), Michael Patton (22 years), Geraldine Patton (23 years), Dr Philip Murphy (23 years), Brian Gillespie (23 years) and Shane O’Neill (25 years).

Reminiscing over his time, Tony McGowan thanked his colleagues from the past 28 years, adding that all times the station was a team effort — and remarked on all the positive changes he has seen over the years, including children of crew members now grown up and becoming crew members themselves.

Medland added: “While one era is ending, a new one is beginning at the station and I wish the management team and volunteer crew well into the future.”

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There is a changing of the guard at Bundoran RNLI as the station’s lifeboat operations manager Captain Hugh Anthony McGowan — known to all as Tony — has stood down after three decades involved in saving lives at sea in Co Donegal.

Tony, in typical fashion, did not want a fuss and chose to hold his retirement at an event held at the Great Northern Hotel to mark station retirements and long-service awards.

As LOM, Tony was the man at the helm of the station who managed all lifeboat operations and was responsible for the station and its people, knowing each one of them and their families.

Seated with his wife Evelyn, his children and grandchild Bernard, Laura and Hugo (sadly daughter Aine, along with Stephen and Realtin, were unable to attend due to Covid), Tony paid tribute to his family and the families of all the RNLI volunteers.

These are the people who wait at home when loved ones are involved in a lifeboat launch, waiting for news, and cancelling plans.

Evelyn has been by his side for all of it, as he observed, counting coins for fundraising and reminding him of lifeboat appointments.

Capt Hugh Anthony McGowan has always had the sea in his veins. On leaving school he joined Irish Shipping as a cadet, working his way up to captain and remaining at sea for 17 years before coming home and opening a hardware store with his brother.

The RNLI came calling in 1992 when the late Frank O’Kelly, a founding member of the Bundoran lifeboat station, informed Tony that he was to be a deputy launching authority.

His fate was sealed with a letter from the RNLI congratulating on his new role, and that was the beginning of 30 years volunteering with the RNLI.

Capt Tony McGowan gives his farewell speech | Credit: RNLI/Ger FoyCapt Tony McGowan gives his farewell speech | Credit: RNLI/Ger Foy

Bundoran RNLI’s lifeboat station was built in 1994 and an Atlantic 21 lifeboat was placed on service. In January 1997, Tony took on the senior management role at the station and saw the lifeboat class change to an Atlantic 75 in 1995 and on to the current Atlantic 85 in 2009.

Tony’s memories of his time as DLA, followed by honorary Ssecretary and finally as LOM are mainly of being surrounded by his close team of launching authorities and capable volunteer lifeboat crew, drawn from the local community with many coming from families that have continued to volunteer for the station down through the next generation.

When asked about the callouts he remembers from his time in charge, he is reluctant to pick just one. The ones that stay with him are the rescues from the rip currents, where people were swept out to sea in seconds and in danger of drowning in view of loved ones.

Tony said: “These are the ones that stay in my mind because every minute counted. The crew had to launch quickly and swoop into action, it was an incredibly fast and professional response by a team of volunteers.

“They saved numerous lives by their quick action and many families have a lot to be grateful for on that. I am very proud of them, each and every time they launch. They are a wonderful bunch of people.”

Commenting on Capt McGowan’s retirement, RNLI area lifesaving manager Rogan Wheeldon said: “It was a privilege to work with Tony and I am sad that I will no longer have that pleasure. His maritime knowledge was invaluable, and he always put his crew and their welfare first.

“It’s a testament to him that he leaves the station is such good shape. This is a well-earned retirement and my thanks to Capt McGowan and his family for all their service to lifesaving and the RNLI.”

Tony is succeeded by Daimon Fergus and his plans for retirement are to spend more time with his grandchildren.

He leaves with a sense of a contentment at a job well done and of pride in the people who will take on the new roles at the station.

In his parting words, Tony said: “While the role has changed a bit since I first took it on, the key has always been to have good people around you and I had that. I was very fortunate to have such a dedicated and talented team and I leave the station in very capable hands.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Three volunteer lifeboat crew members at Bundoran RNLI will take on the forthcoming Bundoran 10 event by walking the full route in their drysuits, yellow wellies, lifejackets and helmets — all while raising money for the charity.

Brian Fowley, Chris Fox and Paul Gallagher decided that they wanted to do something different to raise funds and came up with the novel approach to complete the 10-mile (16km) walk which happens on Saturday 5 March in Bundoran, Co Donegal.

Fox said: “It will be a challenge on the day but we can often be out on long callouts so we are regularly in the kit for a couple of hours at a time — we generally don’t have to walk so far, though!”

Fowley added: “We are delighted with the donations that have come through to date and thankful to all of those who contributed to the fundraiser which is available through the Bundoran RNLI Facebook page.”

Gallagher said: “We are thrilled to have been allocated the race numbers 999, 112 and 834 — the former two representing the emergency phone numbers while 834 represents the RNLI fleet number of the Bundoran lifeboat, B-834’

The Bundoran 10 replaces the Cara Bundoran challenge and will take place on Saturday 5 March. Bundoran RNLI has been chosen as one of the beneficiary partners for the event.

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The volunteer crew of the Bundoran RNLI Lifeboat was called out to reports of a surfer in difficulty on New Year’s Day afternoon. The emergency call was placed to Malin Head Coast Guard just after 3 pm on Saturday (1st January 2022) with the volunteer crew launching just five minutes following the alert.

The surfer thought to be in difficulty was surfing on the Peak and the lifeboat was on scene within one minute of launching. After a few minutes in the area and having spoken to a surfer in the water, it was determined that all was okay and that the call was one with good intent. As a precaution, the Sligo based Rescue 118 helicopter had been launched from Strandhill and also did a sweep of the area.

Speaking on their return to the station, helm Richard Gillespie advised people along the coast to be alert ‘today was a call with good intent – we would always urge people who think that they see someone in difficulty on the coast to call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard. We would always rather launch to check something out than not be called at all.’

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The volunteer crew of Bundoran RNLI were called out on Wednesday afternoon (27 October) to reports of a cow in distress in the surf at Tullan Strand in the Donegal town.

A passer-by had spotted the animal in the water and immediately alerted the Irish Coast Guard at Malin Head who in turn paged the lifeboat crew.

The four crew launched the inshore lifeboat just after 4.30pm and made their way in rough seas to Tullan Strand to assess the situation, while a number of other volunteer crew attended via the shore to offer visual backup to the lifeboat crew.

As the swell was between three and four metres, conditions were difficult for the lifeboat to get closer to the shore with visibility of the cow also tricky for the shore crew.

Daisy Mae following her rescue on Wednesday | Credit: Daimon FergusDaisy Mae following her rescue on Wednesday | Credit: Daimon Fergus

The animal was soon spotted, however, by which time the Sligo-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 118 was on scene. Using the noise and downdraft of the helicopter, its crew were able to encourage the cow back to safety on the shore.

Both the lifeboat and helicopter stayed on scene to ensure the safety of the cow which was tended to on shore before both units were stood down.

Speaking on return to the lifeboat station, Bundoran RNLI helm Michael Patton said: “We were delighted to see a successful outcome from today’s callout and would like to thank those who assisted in the rescue of the cow.

“If you are ever worried that your pet or animal is in danger, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard, rather than putting yourself at risk by going into the water after them.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Bundoran RNLI was involved in the rescue of a woman who got into difficulty off the Main Beach in Bundoran early yesterday morning (Sunday 10 October).

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat by Malin Head Coast Guard shortly after 8 am following a report that a swimmer was missing off the Main Beach. The alarm was raised by a member of the public.

Weather conditions were poor at the time with fresh winds and rough seas.

The lifeboat helmed by Richard Gillespie and with three crew members onboard, launched immediately and made its way to the scene where on arrival they observed that the casualty had managed to make her way back to shore but was exhausted from doing so. Prior to the lifeboat arriving, a member of the public who spotted the casualty in difficulty, grabbed a life ring and went into the water knee deep to meet the casualty and help her.

Two lifeboat crew members went ashore and began to administer casualty care while Bundoran RNLI’s shore crew and members of the public also assisted.

The Irish Coast helicopter, Rescue 118 from Sligo, was also tasked and when it arrived, the woman was subsequently transferred and airlifted to Sligo University Hospital as a precautionary measure.

Bundoran RNLI volunteer Killian O’Kelly is reminding anyone planning on entering the water at this time of the year to take extra precautions to keep themselves safe: ‘This was the second call out for Bundoran RNLI in just over a week to swimmers who got caught in rip currents and thankfully in both cases, everyone is safe and well. However, we want to remind anyone planning a trip to a beach or entering the water, that weather conditions have changed now that summer is over. There is more sea swell and more wind so the risks as a result can increase. Seasonal lifeguards that would have been patrolling the beach during the summer, are not there during the autumn and winter months so it is important to be extra cautious. If you are going swimming, check the weather forecast and tide times in advance and try not to go alone. Always consider using a tow float and wear a bright coloured cap to increase your visibility.

‘Avoid areas where you see breaking waves unless you have the experience or knowledge of the beach you are on. Rip currents can be difficult to spot and are notoriously dangerous. Even the most experienced beachgoers and swimmers can be caught out by rips and our advice if you do get caught in a rip, is don’t try to swim against it or you will get exhausted. If you can stand, wade and don’t swim. If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore. Always raise your hand and shout for help. If you see someone who you think might be in trouble, don't delay, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

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Bundoran RNLI came to the aid of a family who got caught in a rip current off the Main Beach in Bundoran on Saturday afternoon (2 October).

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat at 4.09 pm following a report from the Irish Coast Guard that three people had got into difficulty in a rip current and while two had made it to safety, a third who was a teenage girl, was being taken out to sea.

The lifeboat helmed by Brian Gillespie and with three crew members onboard, launched immediately and made its way the short distance to the beach arriving on scene just six minutes after the request to launch was made. Meanwhile, a member of the public who had been visiting Bundoran grabbed a lifebuoy, jumped into the water, and made his way to the teenage girl where he held her until the lifeboat arrived.

Weather conditions were poor at the time and the crew encountered a big swell with white broken water and spray which was causing poor visibility. Another volunteer crew member Geraldine Patton, who was standing on the beach at the time, was able to point the lifeboat crew to the exact location.

Once on scene, both the girl and the man who had rescued her were taken onboard the lifeboat and assessed by the crew before being brought back to the lifeboat station and further checked by ambulance paramedics. Both were cold but otherwise safe and well.

Speaking following the call out, Captain Tony McGowan, Bundoran RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘This was a frightening experience for the family, and we want to wish them well following their ordeal on Saturday. The man who responded with the lifebuoy had safety in mind first which was crucial in keeping both the girl and him safe until our lifeboat arrived. He deserves great credit for his bravery and determination. Great credit is also due to the large number of our volunteer crew who arrived at the station so promptly as time is always of the essence in situations like these.

‘Rip currents can be difficult to spot and can be notoriously dangerous. They are sometimes identified by a channel of churning, choppy water on the sea’s surface.

Even the most experienced beachgoers and swimmers can be caught out by rips and our advice if you do get caught in a rip, is don’t try to swim against it or you will get exhausted. If you can stand, wade and don’t swim. If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore. Always raise your hand and shout for help. If you see someone who you think might be in trouble, don't delay, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

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As the summer months approach, Bundoran RNLI is calling on everyone looking forward to a boat trip at sea to plan ahead so they can enjoy their day safely.

The plea comes after a group of people whose boat had been tied up but damaged overnight by southerly winds and tidal conditions, became stranded and were brought ashore by the volunteer lifeboat crew.

Killian O’Kelly, volunteer helm at Bundoran RNLI, said: “It is great to see more people out on the water and enjoying themselves.

“As the summer approaches we want to remind people ahead of their trip to sea to plan ahead with safety in mind. Making simple safety measures means people can make the most of their activities with peace of mind.

“We would encourage people to get the right training for their craft. It is important to know how to handle your boat and its capabilities. Ensure your boat is prepared for the season and that your engine is well maintained. Always carry adequate tools and spares to fix any problems you may encounter and ensure you have enough fuel for your journey.

“Always check the weather and tide times. If you’re in an area that you are unfamiliar with, seek local advice on tides, conditions and potential obstacles or challenges.

“Always carry a means of calling or signalling for help — a mobile phone or a VHF radio tuned to Channel 16 to talk to the coastguard. Let them, and someone else on the shore know where you’re going and who to call if you don’t return on time, and always wear a lifejacket.”

More safety advice for boating and other activities is available at rnli.org/safety

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