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Castletownbere RNLI in conjunction with the Irish Coast Guard Rescue 115 helicopter crew from Shannon have rescued 13 people this evening after their 33m fishing trawler ran aground onto rocks off Dursey Island and started to list and roll.

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat at 2.30 pm this afternoon (Friday 2 June) following a report from the Irish Coast Guard that a vessel was in difficulty on the southwest corner of Dursey Island.

The lifeboat launched immediately under Coxswain Dean Hegarty and with crew members Marney O’Donoghue, Dave Fenton, Sean Bawn O’Sullivan, Carl Cronin and David O’Donovan onboard.

Weather conditions at time were good with a Force 3-4 south easterly wind and a 1-1.5m swell.

Once on scene and arriving at the same time as Rescue 115, the lifeboat crew observed that the vessel was hard aground, listing and rocking back and forth. The vessel’s crew who were on the deck and all wearing lifejackets were safe and well. However, with the trawler rolling 20-30 degrees to the right towards rocks, there were concerns that the boat may not hold. A decision was made not to attempt to pull the vessel off the rocks at that point but instead to airlift nine of the vessel’s crew off to safety.

Following a successful winching operation, the trawler eventually came off the rocks but lost steering 100m from the shore. The lifeboat crew worked with the four remaining crew to establish a tow line. Due to the near proximity to the shore, the lifeboat crew were assisted by the crew of a local fishing boat that was in the area at the time who helped to push the casualty vessel away from the shore.

The tow was successfully set up 15-20m from the shore and the trawler was then towed out to sea by the lifeboat. The crew of Castletownbere RNLI subsequently passed the tow over to a tug on arrival.

The crew arrived safely back to the lifeboat station at approximately 6.20pm.

Speaking following the call out, Castletownbere RNLI Coxswain Dean Hegarty said: ‘This was a challenging call out given that the boat was listing and there were concerns that it might roll further. We want to thank and commend our colleagues in Rescue 115, this was a great example of joint work and co-operation. We also want to thank the vessels in the area at the time who either stood by or assisted along with the two tugs that came from Atlantic Towage and Marine. We wish the trawler’s crew well following their ordeal today.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Baltimore RNLI will host its first Ladies Boutique Lunch this August in West Cork. The fundraising event will see proceeds raised go towards the charity that saves lives at sea.

The lunch will take place in Inisbeg Estate in Baltimore and will kick off with a prosecco reception at 12.30 pm on Thursday, 3 August, and will include a three-course meal. There will also be a raffle on the day.

Speaking ahead of the event, Odharnait Collins, Baltimore RNLI Fundraising Chair, said: ‘We are all really looking forward to the event. August is a lovely time in Baltimore and a very busy time for the station, so it’s the perfect time to give back.

‘Last year, Baltimore RNLI launched its all-weather and inshore lifeboats 24 times with our volunteer crew bringing several people to safety. That is a great achievement for the station team, who selflessly dedicate so much time to training and responding to call outs. Proceeds raised from the sale of tickets and the raffle for the lunch will ensure the crew are provided with the best of kit and equipment so they can continue to save lives at sea.’

Tickets for the event are priced at €85 and available by contacting Ruth McSweeney on 086 2698324 or Rosaleen Mackeown on 086 809 4814.

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The Irish Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland have issued a joint water safety appeal as people are expected to enjoy the water this June Bank Holiday weekend.

Even in good weather, water temperatures remain cold, and the organisations have advised that those taking part in any water-based activity should make sure they have the proper equipment and know how to do it safely.

They advise to always carry a means of calling for help and to keep it within reach at all times. When kayaking or paddleboarding close to shore, conditions can turn quickly and wearing a buoyancy aid or lifejacket can make the critical difference. If you unexpectedly find yourself in the water and are wearing a lifejacket, you have given yourself vital time to be brought to safety.

While the good weather is set to continue, always check the forecast, tide times and sea conditions before setting off. Get regular updates if planning to be out for any length of time. And be prepared to change your plans or cancel the trip if the forecast is unfavourable.

For those swimming, remember to acclimatise slowly, wear a bright swim cap and consider a tow float to increase visibility. Never swim alone and always ensure that your activity is being monitored by a colleague. Swim in areas that are lifeguarded or are known locally to be safe.

Micheál O’Toole, Irish Coast Guard operations manager said: “We appeal to everybody to plan for and attend to their personal safety. We again are warning on the dangers of using inflatable toys such as lilos on or near the water, be it seaside, lake, or river. Please do not bring such items with you.

“We express our thanks to all members of the emergency services who will be on duty over the weekend, in particular volunteer members of the coastguard, RNLI, community inshore rescue boats and mountain rescue teams. Have a safe and enjoyable weekend.”

RNLI water safety lead Linda-Gene Byrne added: “The fine weather and brighter evenings will encourage more people onto the water and it’s great to see people out and about and enjoying it.

“If you fall into the water unexpectedly, remember to Float to Live — tilt your head back with ears submerged and try to relax and control your breathing. Use your hands to help you stay afloat. It’s okay if your legs sink, we all float differently. Keep floating until you feel your breath coming back before calling for help or swimming ashore if nearby.

“Taking a few minutes to check you have taken all the necessary equipment and advice for your activity and knowing what to do in an emergency will give peace of mind and help prevent accidents.”

Roger Sweeney, Water Safety Ireland’s deputy chief executive said: “This weekend, please remember that although air temperatures have risen, our waterways are still too cold for extended swims. A full moon on Saturday will make the coastline more precarious and rip currents will be stronger. Swim within your depth at the lifeguarded waterways listed at www.watersafety.ie/lifeguards/.

“A full moon also creates lower low tides that will expose even greater areas of the coastline which often tempts walkers to explore sandbanks. Be aware of being trapped by incoming tides, carry a fully charged mobile phone, and please provide constant uninterrupted adult supervision for any children in your care.”

If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, or you think that they are in trouble, dial 112 or use marine VHF radio Channel 16 and ask for the coastguard.

The Irish Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland have also expressed their condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in recent jet ski incidents on Carlingford Lough last week and most recently on Lough Derg in Co Clare.

Published in Water Safety

Hundreds of swimmers ranging from beginners to experienced athletes, fearlessly took on the challenge of the Dunmore East RNLI Open Water Swim last Sunday (28 May).

The event garnered an impressive response with 360 registered swimmers, all driven by a shared purpose: supporting the invaluable work of Dunmore East RNLI. Participants from around the country and beyond attended the event, promoting a sense of positivity, energy, and personal fulfilment while collecting necessary funds for the lifeboat station.

The event featured three swim options, offering distances of 1,600m, 800m, and 500m, thereby providing opportunities for individuals of all skill levels to test their mettle in the invigorating open water. Regrettably, the 1,600m swim had to be cancelled due to safety concerns arising from a strong north-easterly wind. Nonetheless, participant safety remained the utmost priority, and a dedicated team of kayakers, safety boats, and the state-of-the-art Shannon Class RNLI lifeboat, William & Agnes Wray, expertly escorted the swimmers throughout the event.

Dunmore East RNLI Open Water Swim participants: Fionnuala Houlihan, Nicola Cunniffe, Una Fennell and Anne Marie PowerDunmore East RNLI Open Water Swim participants: Fionnuala Houlihan, Nicola Cunniffe, Una Fennell and Anne Marie Power Photo: Peter Grogan

Carol McGeary from Dunmore East RNLI's Open Water Swim committee praised all involved with the event: ‘The inspiring community support and each participant's contribution were remarkable. The funds raised will power our volunteer crew's lifesaving work at sea. We are proud and grateful for this collective success in enhancing water safety and support.

‘The event highlighted the spirit of charity and volunteerism while emphasising water safety. Heartfelt appreciation goes out to everyone involved in creating this memorable day. The team eagerly look forward to the next event, continuing the tradition of community spirit and support for the Dunmore East RNLI.’

Dunmore East RNLI extends its sincere gratitude to the event's lead sponsors, Energia Renewables and Activate Waterford, for their generous support in bringing the swim to fruition. Gratitude is also extended to additional supporters, including Brendan Walsh Fruit & Veg, Strand Hotel, Powers Centra, Dunmore East Coastguard, Costcutter, Clem Jacob Hire, Dunmore East Fire Brigade, Order of Malta, The Fitness Beach Bum, Geoff Harris, Kellog's, and Lidl. Their contributions played an instrumental role in ensuring a memorable day for all.

The organising committee extends special thanks to Barry McConnell, Commodore of Waterford Harbour Sailing Club, Deirdre Lane, Harbour Master, and Karen Harris, Dunmore Adventure Centre, for their invaluable assistance in arranging and hosting the event. Their cooperation and flexibility in accommodating the event alongside their own activities are greatly appreciated.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Baltimore RNLI in West Cork rescued a kayaker who got into difficulty in freshening winds this afternoon and was drifting backwards towards rocks off Sherkin Island.

The volunteer lifeboat crew were requested by the Irish Coast Guard to launch their inshore lifeboat shortly before 5 pm on Wednesday, 31 May and asked to conduct a search following a report that a kayaker was in difficulty in the middle of Baltimore Harbour at The Perch near Lousy Rocks.

The kayaker raised the alarm after she began to drift backwards towards rocks on the east side of Sherkin Island near the Globe Rocks.

The lifeboat helmed by Pat O’Driscoll and with crew members Davy Ryan, Eoin O’Driscoll and John Kearney Jnr onboard, launched at 4.50pm and arrived on scene six minutes later.

Weather conditions at the time were blowing a south easterly Force 5-6 wind with a choppy sea and good visibility.

Arriving on scene, the crew observed the kayaker standing on rocks in the water and facing incoming wind and waves on the east side of the Globe Strand.

The crew brought the casualty who was shaken but otherwise safe and well, onboard the lifeboat and retrieved the kayak before making their way back to the station.

Back on shore, the casualty was made comfortable in the lifeboat station.

Speaking following the call out, Baltimore RNLI Helm Pat O’Driscoll said: ‘This was a frightening experience for the kayaker who had prior to our arrival made several attempts to cross the harbour but was struggling in the wind and tiredness set in. She did the right thing in going to sea prepared with a means of communication so she could request the help when she needed it, and we were delighted to help and bring her back to safety.

‘Ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend and as we continue to experience some beautiful weather, we would encourage people to enjoy our coast and our sea, but we want them to do it safely. If planning to go on the water, wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid if you are engaging in water sports. Check weather conditions and tides before venturing out and if planning a trip to a beach, where possible go to a lifeguarded one. Have a means of calling for help such as a VHF radio or a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch. If you do get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

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Rosslare Harbour RNLI launched to the assistance of a 44ft sailing yacht with three people aboard on Tuesday (30 May) after it developed mechanical problems.

The all-weather lifeboat was requested by the Irish Coast Guard at 2.27pm and within half an hour the crew had assembled, launched and reached the scene in Ballytrent Bay.

Conditions were difficult with a rough sea and a Force 6-7 northeasterly wind but visibility was good.

After assessing the situation and consulting with the yacht’s three crew — who were safe and well and wearing flotation devices — the lifeboat team decided to tow the vessel to the nearest safe port at Rosslare Harbour.

A tow line was secured at 3pm and the vessel was safely dropped alongside the harbour at 3.50pm.

Speaking following the callout, Rosslare Harbour RNLI lifeboat operations manager Jamie Ryan said: “We are enjoying some wonderful weather and would encourage everyone planning a strip on the water to go prepared. We would stress the importance of wearing proper flotation devices and having good communication equipment when at sea.”

The lifeboat volunteer crew on this shout were coxswain Micheál Ferguson, mechanic Mick Nicholas, Paul McCormack, Dave McCusker, Keith Morris, Peter Carr and Conor Barry.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Long serving RNLI lifeboat Coxswain John O’Donnell retired today (Wednesday, 31 May) after 21 years of saving lives at sea on the west coast of Ireland.

Born and raised on Inis Mór on the Aran Islands, John has been Coxswain at the lifeboat station since 2003. For his last exercise at the helm on Tuesday evening, the lifeboat was joined by members of the Irish Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue 115, from Shannon.

John O’Donnell was born and raised on Inis Mór on the Aran Islands. He started his working life as a fishing crew on his father’s boat in 1976, fishing out of Killybegs and then on both, the east and west coast of Ireland. In 1983, he finally got his own fishing boat before deciding to return home to the island, to build his own home and raise his family with his wife, Nora. While on his way over to the island from Galway in 2002, he met with members of the RNLI and on hearing he was coming home, they encouraged him to join the lifeboat crew on Inis Mór. The Coxswain, Paddy Mullen, was due to retire in the next year or two, and there would be a chance to become a full-time Coxswain onboard the lifeboat. John became the Aran Islands Coxswain in 2003 and has remained in the position since.

John O'Donnell with his son Ciaran, who is also a volunteer lifeboat crew member for Aran Islands RNLIJohn O'Donnell with his son Ciaran, who is also a volunteer lifeboat crew member for Aran Islands RNLI

During his time in charge, John has been on many callouts and saved countless lives. The call out that stands out in his mind came during one of his earliest days on the lifeboat crew. A trawler with four crew onboard was lost. One of the crew was John’s cousin and the other, his best friend. The men had all fished together and were close, sadly all four crew were lost. John had been away when the call came in but arrived into Galway a few hours later and immediately took over the search. In the days that followed, the lifeboat was out searching and John remembers the lifeboat crew coming from Ballyglass and Achill to help.

Another call-out he remembers was to a 24-metre trawler which nearly ran aground at the North Light lighthouse on the west side of the island. The seas were enormous and when the lifeboat arrived on the scene, the trawler was nearly up on top of the rocks. The crew had one chance to get a rope from the lifeboat to the crew of the trawler, or it would be lost. In those seas, it was hugely challenging but John’s crew got the rope across to the trawler while he manoeuvred the lifeboat into position. Thankfully the lifeboat was able to tow the trawler away from the rocks and bring all crew safely home.

Commenting on his life with the RNLI on his retirement as Coxswain, John said, ‘I’ve spent all my working life at sea. I was never afraid; I knew what to do and I knew where to go, and I never refused a call. After 21 years, I can honestly say, I’m still learning. You might think you know it all, but there are no second chances with the sea, and every decision you make, there are five or six lives depending on you. I will miss it but I’m also ready to go. I’ve a wonderful family, and my wife Nora is a huge support to me. She raised our children, and understood that when someone is in trouble, you’ve got to go. Having that support was everything.’

He continued, ‘One person doesn’t run a lifeboat, it’s the whole station. The team on the Aran Islands are fantastic. I have huge admiration and respect for the men and women in the Irish Coast Guard too. Here on the Aran Islands, we work closely with the team in Valentia MRSC and Rescue 115, who are based in Shannon. On a bad night, you would look up and they would be there overhead. We have a close working relationship with them and that makes all the difference when you need to make split second decisions that could save a life. I would also like to thank my lifeboat colleagues across the Institution and in particular, the team at Galway RNLI, who we often worked with on a callout and looked after us during a long search.’

Speaking on John’s retirement RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager Rob King said, ‘It represents the end of era with John’s retirement. He is hugely respected and admired in the lifeboat community and it’s been an honour working with him. I think anyone who is involved with the sea or search and rescue will have heard of John or met him over the years. He has put saving lives at sea to the fore and has always been source of help and encouragement to his colleagues. He will be missed, and we wish him and Nora and the family, the very best for the future.’

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The volunteer lifeboat crew of Howth RNLI launched their inshore lifeboat to two separate incidents this weekend to boats which had suffered engine failure.

On Friday night, shortly after 21:30, the lifeboat was launched to reports of a sailing yacht with three people on board, which had suffered engine failure on its passage from Malahide to Howth.

Weather conditions were good with light winds. The lifeboat located the yacht under sail, but its engine had failed. As darkness began to fall, the crew passed a tow line from the lifeboat, and the yacht was towed back to Howth harbour.

Howth Inshore Lifeboat towing sailing yacht on Friday 26 May. Photo: Tom RyanHowth Inshore Lifeboat towing sailing yacht on Friday 26 May. Photo: Tom Ryan

At 09:37 this morning (Sunday) the crew were paged by Dublin Coast Guard following a 999 call from a member of the public who witnessed a small motorboat with three people on board in difficulty and drifting towards rocks just east of Howth harbour.

The lifeboat launched within ten minutes of the call with three crew on board. The wind was moderate coming from the North East, causing an onshore wind and breaking waves onto the East pier of Howth. The Howth Coast Guard unit were also tasked to assist from the shore.

Below is a video of Howth Inshore Lifeboat coming alongside the broken-down motorboat taken by Howth Coast Guard,

The lifeboat reached the motorboat in minutes and it was observed that the crew of the boat had deployed an anchor which was holding them just off the rocks. The lifeboat crew quickly passed a tow line and instructed the crew of the motorboat to discard the anchor and to attach the tow line. The lifeboat towed the motorboat out of the breaking waves and returned them to the safety of Howth harbour.

Speaking following the incident this morning, Howth RNLI inshore lifeboat helm Tom Ryan said: “The member of the public did the right thing in calling the Coast Guard straight away. When the winds are blowing onshore and a boat is broken down, every minute counts. Our volunteer crew responded quickly once the pager went off and we launched the lifeboat within minutes.

Once on scene, we cast a tow line to the boat and instructed them to discard the anchor. We quickly pulled them through the breaking waves away from the rocks. We established that all three persons on board the motorboat were well and we then towed the boat back to Howth harbour.

As the summer weather takes hold, and more people are heading out on the water, we have some helpful guidance for boat owners: ensure you have undergone the right training so that you can develop your skills to be prepared for when things go wrong; take time to ensure your engine is well maintained, and if you do get into difficulty make sure you have an anchor on board and a means of calling for help. Our volunteer lifeboat crew are on call 24/7 and if you do get into difficulty or you see someone in trouble call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.'

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The volunteer crew of Clifden RNLI in Co Galway towed a broken-down boat with two people on board to safety yesterday evening and were tasked again at midnight to a medevac from the island of Inishbofin.

At 6.45pm on Friday (26 May), Clifden’s Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat was tasked by Malin Head Coast Guard to assist a boat that had broken down.

The crew launched Joyce King in beautiful sunny conditions, helmed by David Barry with crew James Mullen, Joseph Acton and Brian Ward. They were assisted by Neil Gallery and John Brendan Mannion on shore.

The crew arrived on scene to find the casualties had anchored and did not require medical attention. The stricken vessel was taken under tow back to a mooring in Clifden Bay, arriving without incident at 8.45pm.

Another callout came at midnight when Clifden’s all-weather lifeboat St Christopher was tasked to evacuate an injured person from Inishbofin. The casualty had sustained a head injury from a fall.

The lifeboat slipped her moorings under the command of coxswain James Mullen with John Mullen, Joseph Acton, Dan Whelan and Neil Gallery as crew.

The weather was calm en route with a beautiful night at sea, and the lifeboat made it to Inishbofin in excellent time. The crew met with the island nurse who provided a handover and then proceeded to transport the patient back to Cleggan pier. An ambulance was waiting to bring the patient to hospital for further treatment.

Speaking about the shouts, James Mullen said: “It was a busy night for our volunteer crew and I want to thank everyone involved, in particular the island nurse, An Garda Síochána, the National Ambulance Service and the coastguard who assisted in the multi-agency medical evacuation.

“Our volunteer crew remain on call 24/7, with the good weather promised we urge everyone to be safe around the water. If you get into difficulty, or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

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Kilmore Quay RNLI crew members Michelle Hinchy and Trevor Devereux took a rare day off from the pager yesterday for a special reason. The couple switched their lifejackets and yellow wellies for wedding day finery to marry in a beautiful ceremony surrounded by family and friends.

However, the day could not pass without a stop at the lifeboat station and some photos with Kilmore Quay’s Tamar class all-weather lifeboat, Killarney. Between them the bride and groom have over 50 years voluntary service with Kilmore Quay RNLI. Michelle, currently the station’s only female crew member, is also training to become a lifeboat navigator. Trevor is a qualified lifeboat Coxswain and mechanic, and alongside his volunteering duties, recently took up the role of Regional Resilience Coxswain Mechanic working at other lifeboat stations when needed.

Speaking following their wedding, Michelle said: ‘We had a wonderful day. The RNLI is a huge part of our lives, and it was odd not to be carrying a pager today but fantastic to celebrate with all our family, friends and especially our RNLI family, some that had travelled from far and wide to be here.’

Members of the station team were delighted to join the happy couple on their special day and the whole crew extend their best wishes to Trevor and Michelle for continued happiness in their life together.

John Grace, Kilmore Quay RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, said: ‘Michelle and Trevor are very much a part of our RNLI family here in Kilmore Quay. All of us at the station send them our congratulations and wish them fair winds and following seas.’

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