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The RNLI’s new inland lifeboat station on Lower Lough Erne is complete and fully operational.

The station team at Enniskillen RNLI are now looking for new volunteers to join the crew in several roles including lifeboat crew, shore crew, deputy launching authorities and fundraisers.

After being housed in temporary accommodation for 21 years, volunteers at Enniskillen were handed the keys to their new state-of-the-art building on the Killadeas Road at Gublusk earlier this month.

The modern purpose-built lifeboat station is located close to the lough to allow for an efficient launch of its inshore lifeboat.

And the station — which also houses the associated launching tractor and equipment, full crew changing facilities, a workshop, office and training room — will be officially opened at a special ceremony next year.

The build, which took little over a year to complete, was carried out by Omagh-based company Woodvale Construction and handed over to the RNLI on Friday 4 November.

A generous contribution towards the cost of the build was made by the daughter of the late Alfred Russell Wallace Weir from Bangor in Co Down, in his memory.

The building is designed with a heating system which allows the heat to be drawn from the ground, keeping the temperature at an ambient 16C inside. The excess is used to heat the water for showering, washing up and cleaning the vessels. The building is also fitted with solar panels on the roof to generate electricity.

In 2001, Enniskillen became home to the RNLI’s first inland lifeboat station based on Lower Lough Erne.

Due to the overall size and complexity of the lough and its high leisure usage, the decision was taken by the RNLI in 2002 to base a second lifeboat on the upper lough at Carrybridge that would work in conjunction with the original lifeboat station on the lower lough at Killadeas.

Last year Enniskillen RNLI launched 33 times, bringing 73 people to safety.

Enniskillen RNLI’s inshore lifeboat in its new boat shed | Credit: RNLI/Rogan WheeldonEnniskillen RNLI’s inshore lifeboat in its new boat shed | Credit: RNLI/Rogan Wheeldon

Speaking following the handover of the new building to the RNLI, area lifesaving manager Rogan Wheeldon said he was delighted that the station was now complete.

“From the outset, we wanted to build a modern station with full crew facilities with areas for the crew to change and train and space to keep their lifeboat and lifesaving kit safe,” he said. “We now have those facilities and are very happy to be in a position to take over the new lifeboat station and are delighted with both the design and quality of the building.”

Gary Jones, Enniskillen RNLI lifeboat operations manager said the new station was what the crew deserved and is “a testament of the RNLI’s commitment and dedication to the community here locally and a credit to the efforts of our crew in continuing to bring people to safety on Lough Erne”.

He added: “Our volunteers had an opportunity to be shown around their new station and they are overwhelmed with the structure and facilities that they now have when they come together for call outs and training. We would like to thank everyone who has helped us to get to this stage.

“Now that we have our new building, we are keen to have new volunteers join our team. If you are interested in becoming lifeboat crew, shore crew, deputy launching authority or helping in another officer capacity or with fundraising, please contact us to find out more about how you can be involved and help us to continue to save lives on Lough Erne.”

To find out more about how you can volunteer at Enniskillen RNLI, get in touch with Gary at [email protected]

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

As the festive season draws near, the volunteers at Lough Ree RNLI are throwing open the doors of the lifeboat station at Coosan Point for a special Christmas sale next Saturday afternoon (26 November).

RNLI Christmas cards are central to the charity’s fundraising drive at this time of year. Always high on the shopping list of supporters, the Christmas cards and other RNLI merchandise will be on sale at the new lifeboat station on Saturday afternoon next from 1pm.

Lough Ree RNLI treasurer Vincent Rafter said: “The public support of the charity and its volunteers are crucial for the organisation. So far this year Lough Ree RNLI volunteer crew has responded to 47 call outs on the lake.

“Over the past two years RNLI fundraising in the Midlands has been focussed on the provision of the new lifeboat station which opened in June. The facility itself is fast becoming a major attraction in the area with volunteers hosting planned visits every month.”

Recently the volunteer crew were pleased to receive an encouraging note of thanks, following a visit from a young girl in Athlone.

Eliza Crosbie (9) from Retreat Heights was part of a group from St Ciaran’s NS, Baylin who visited the lifeboat station recently. In her letter she expressed an interest in helping the charity in any way and perhaps making use of her life saving skills. The letter was accompanied by a colourful drawing of the lifeboat on the water.

Station visits officer at Lough Ree RNLI, Paul Kelly said: “The visits are a new initiative for us and this is one of the first responses we have received. The future of the RNLI is assured with the enthusiasm Eliza and her friends have expressed for the organisation.“”

So impressed were the Lough Ree RNLI volunteer crew with the letter that they invited Eliza to the station this week for a personal tour. Paul and Lough Ree RNLI operations manager Kevin Ganly made a small presentation to Eliza to mark the occasion.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Newcastle RNLI has launched a festive 10K, 5K and one-mile fun run to help save lives at sea.

Appealing to the seasoned athlete as well as families and fun runners wanting to get some exercise while getting into the Christmas spirit, the event will take place on Sunday 11 December around the Castlewellan Lake on a mainly flat terrain.

The 10K and 5K events will be chip-timed with prizes for the winners and an iconic RNLI all-weather lifeboat medal for all participants.

The one-mile Christmas dash, meanwhile, is open to everyone and suitable for those bringing families and those with prams and/or pets.

While fun runners won’t be timed, they too will receive a Christmas medal for their efforts. There will also be prizes for the most festive costumes.

For those who can’t do the run on the day but would still like to take part, there will be a virtual option. Simply do the 10K in your own time, send Strava/Garmin or equivalent evidence of completion to RNLI community manager Nuala Muldoon at [email protected] and you will receive a medal in the post.

All participants, whether running on the day or putting in the steps at home, will receive a medal for their efforts | Credit: RNLI/NewcastleAll participants, whether running on the day or putting in the steps at home, will receive a medal for their efforts | Credit: RNLI/Newcastle

Speaking ahead of the event, Muldoon said: “This is a wonderful Christmas event with options to be competitive in either the 10K or 5K, to enjoy the fun run with family or friends, or do it in your own spare time virtually.

“We want people to really get into the Christmas spirit by dressing up, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying a well-deserved mince pie and some Christmas fun at the finish line.

“All proceeds raised from the Castlewellan event will go to Newcastle RNLI. Every time a RNLI crew launches, they are determined to save every one. But they can’t do that without the generosity of the public who support events such as these and raise vital funds.

“By taking on the Castlewellan 10K/5K or one mile fun run, participants are helping to keep our volunteers safe. Every penny they raise makes a difference. It helps the charity to recruit and train volunteers and could fund the kit they need to protect themselves. It helps ensure a lifeboat is ready when the call comes and it enables our safety advice to reach as many people as possible so they can stay safe by the water.”

In 2021, lifeboats at Northern Ireland’s 10 stations launched 297 times bringing 370 people to safety, seven of whom were lives saved.

During the lifeguard season, RNLI teams located on 11 beaches along the Causeway Coast and in Co Down responded to 330 incidents, coming to the aid of 384 people, one of whom was a life saved.

To register for the Castlewellan 10K/5K and one-mile festive fun run on Sunday 11 December, click HERE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Donaghadee RNLI rescued a lone sailor on Friday afternoon (18 November) after his 27ft yacht broke down off the Copeland Islands north of Northern Ireland’s Ards Peninsula.

The volunteer crew were requested by Belfast Coastguard to launch their all-weather lifeboat just after 11.30am and go to the aid of the sailor, who had got into difficulty during his passage from Kircubbin on Strangford Lough to Carrickfergus.

The lifeboat, under coxswain John Ashwood and with five crew onboard, was launched immediately from Donaghadee and made its way to the scene half a mile northwest of Lighthouse Island.

Weather conditions at the time were challenging with a Force 5-6 northwesterly fresh breeze and a lumpy swell.

Once on scene, the crew observed that the sailor was safe and well. He had got into difficulty when a rope was caught around a propellor of the yacht, causing the engine to cut out and leave him without power which also led the vessel to drift. He raised the alarm via his mobile phone.

With the lifeboat alongside the yacht, the crew assessed the situation and a decision was made to pass a towline to the sailor. This proved difficult given the weather and the swell, but a tow was successfully established.

With the yacht under tow, the lifeboat began to make slow progress in the weather to reach the nearest safe port at Bangor Marina, a passage that took approximately an hour.

Speaking following the callout, Ashwood said: “We found the sailor safe and well and wearing his buoyancy aid but as he was very cold, we were glad to bring him back to the safety of the shore in Bangor.

“We would encourage anyone planning a trip to sea at this time of year to go prepared. Always check the weather forecast and tide times and always wear the appropriate clothing for your activity.

“Check your engine is well maintained and that you have the appropriate means of calling for help should you need it such as a VHF radio or a mobile phone. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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On Monday afternoon (7 November), as Courtmacsherry RNLI paid tribute to Mary O'Mahony, wife of former crew member Richard and sister-in-law of former coxswain Diarmuid, the station crew and officers taking part in the guard of honour outside the station were alerted that two dogs were in imminent danger stranded on the nearby sandbanks as the tide was rapidly coming in.

The inshore boathouse lifeboat, under coxswain Tadgh MacCarthy with crew members Stuart Russell and Dave Philips, was launched immediately and proceeded at speed towards the last sightings of the dogs.

Charting a tight course to the Burren coastline in West Cork, the lifeboat crew used all their local knowledge to get close to the two dogs in worsening weather conditions.

The lifeboat was able to quickly reach the dogs, who were by this time in the water, and guide both to the safety of the shoreline where locals who had seen the danger unfolding had gathered alongside station officer Garry Barrett.

Both animals were found to be in good condition when getting ashore and were lucky that they had not been swept away in a quick-running sea.

Philip White, Courtmacsherry RNLI’s deputy launching authority praised the quick action of the lifeboat crew: “It was really great to see many members of the public reporting the incident and contacting the lifeboat station with their concerns as it would be vital that owners or locals did not attempt to rescue the dogs themselves in a fast incoming tide.”

Monday was also a very special day for the station as four coxswains — Sean O’Farrell, Mark Gannon, Ken Cashman and Peter Nunan — departed in the early morning to commence their week-long training in Poole on the south Coast of England for the new Shannon Class lifeboat which will arrive in Courtmacsherry in mid January.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

An Omagh man who was rescued by the Irish Coast Guard after he was caught in a rip current off a Donegal beach in July has completed the Dublin Marathon in his bare feet to raise awareness of water safety and to raise funds for the RNLI.

A seasoned open water swimmer, Chris Gallagher was visiting Murder Hole Beach when he got caught in a rip current.

“I am an experienced swimmer, having previously been a lifeguard and a world record swimmer as well as swimming all over the world including in Australia but I have never been caught like this before,” he said of his ordeal.

“I wasn’t even 10 metres out into the water when the ferocious rip caught me and threw me about like what I can only describe as being in an industrial washing machine and a racing car at the same time, it was powerful, and I had absolutely no control.

“I felt calm initially as I know how to work my way out of a rip curl as I was caught in Australian waters 22 years ago but nothing I tried worked.

“By the grace of God, a rock was in my grasp as I was being pulled into the rip roaring waters and I managed to get my body out of the water onto that wee rock but I was fighting the waves to stay on as they threw me on and off like a rag doll. I was clinging to the rock for dear life for two hours.”

Given the conditions, the Sligo-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 118 was tasked to the scene and rescued Gallagher from the water.

‘I am an experienced swimmer…but I have never been caught like this before’

Since he was rescued, Gallagher has signed up to be a water safety volunteer with the RNLI with a particular interest in highlighting the dangers of open water swimming.

He has also taken part in a series of inspiring fundraising events with his most recent venture to not only undertake the Dublin Marathon but to do it in his bare feet, which he completed successfully last Sunday (30 October). He also completed the Kerry Hardman Ironman triathlon on his birthday in August and in September a 5k swim of Glencar Lough in Sligo.

To round off his series of events, he is running an Eighties-themed night this Saturday 5 November in the Village Inn in Killyclogher. Proceeds from all events will go to Bundoran RNLI and Lough Erne’s two RNLI lifeboat stations, at Enniskillen and Carrybridge in Northern Ireland.

Speaking of Gallagher’s efforts to raise both funds and water safety awareness, RNLI community manager Nuala Muldoon said: “Chris really is an inspiration and his own rescue story highlights how even the most experienced water users can still find themselves in difficulty.

“We are delighted that he is now promoting water safety and are in awe at how adventurous he has been in setting himself courageous challenges in his pursuit to raise funds.

“Thanks to Chris, the proceeds raised will now power our lifesaving volunteer crews to continue their good work in saving lives both at sea and on inland waters.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Carrybridge RNLI helms Chris Cathcart and David Reid have served 20 years rescuing those on trouble on Lough Erne in Northern Ireland.

During a recent visit to the station by the RNLI chief executive Mark Dowie, they were presented with medals to thank them for their volunteering service.

Over the past 20 years since the lifeboat station was formed on Upper Lough Erne, Chris and David have been involved in hundreds of rescues involving a wide variety of callouts.

Between the two volunteers, they have attended all manner of shouts on Lough Erne including to people, boats and also stranded animals in distress.

In addition to the helm role, Chris is the lifeboat training coordinator and press officer while David is the inshore lifeboat/launch and recovery plant mechanic. Both are also casualty carers and shore crew.

At a presentation held at the end of the summer, Lord Erne presented 17 of the Carrybridge volunteers with the late Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal. The commemorative medal was created to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and awarded to those crew who had served more than five years with the charity.

Stephen Scott, lifeboat operations manager at Carrybridge RNLI praised Chris and David on their fantastic achievement.

“Chris and David carry a pager at all times and when the alarm goes off whether it be day or night, summer or winter both can be relied upon to respond to go to those in need,” he said. “It was a privilege for the volunteers to also be presented with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal by Lord Erne and his wife.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Clifden RNLI’s volunteer crew launched the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat on Monday afternoon (24 October) to assist nine people who were caught by the tide on Omey Island in western Connemara.

Malin Head Coast Guard requested assistance from Clifden RNLI just before 4pm and the lifeboat launched immediately after under the command of volunteer helm Kenny Flaherty.

Weather conditions at the time were poor with heavy rain. However the nine people stranded on the island were found to be well and in good spirits.

The lifeboat crew proceeded to make two trips with the casualties back to the shore at Claddaghduff and safely returned all nine people to the mainland.

Speaking after the shout, Clifden RNLI lifeboat operations officer John Brittain said: “We would remind locals and visitors to always check tide times and heights before venturing out and to always make sure you have enough time to return safely.

“If you do get cut off by the tide, it is important to stay where you are and not attempt a return to shore on your own as that may be when the danger presents and you get into difficulty. Always carry a means of communication and should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Lough Ree RNLI marked a significant milestone on Monday (17 October) when a cheque for €100,000 was presented as the local community contribution to the overall €1.2m cost of the new lifeboat station on a site donated by the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland.

The presentation was made by Michael Ganly, chairman of the Lough Ree RNLI Appeal Committee to Anna Classon, the RNLI’s regional head for Ireland.

On her first visit to the new lifeboat station, which was opened this past June, Classon said she was “really impressed by the partnership between the RNLI and the IWAI and to see two great organisations sharing resources for the benefit of the community”.

The community contribution was the result of a fundraising campaign which ran for more than 12 months and was supported by community groups, the corporate sector and a host of individuals for the lakeside community and beyond.

Presenting the cheque, Ganly said: “The work of people like committee secretary Pauline Irwin and all others involved was crucial to the success of the venture.”

The new lifeboat station has been very active this year and has been a particular asset to the 46 volunteer crew as the charity and its lifeboat Tara Scougall have responded to 46 callouts in the year to date.

Reflecting on the successful fundraising campaign, Lough Ree RNLI treasurer Vincent Rafter thanked “all the GoFundMe campaigns, tests of endurance and anonymous donors who contributed amounts large and small to this special community initiative”.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The Irish Coast Guard has shared video of a drone-assisted rescue in Cork Harbour which it says illustrates the increasing importance of new technology in emergency responses.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Crosshaven RNLI rescued a woman who was cut off by the tide at White Bay on Tuesday evening (11 October).

The lifeboat crew were able to quickly reach the casualty as they were guided by the drone launched by Guillen Coast Guard Unit, the IRCG says.

Lights on the drone were also used to illuminate the area as the volunteers recovered the casualty, Guillen Coast Guard adds.

The IRCG says this was one of two rescues in recent days — the other in Clogherhead, Co Louth — where unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) “successfully and quickly located casualties in dangerous and inaccessible locations requiring extraction by either boat or helicopter”.

Published in Coastguard
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Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in Ireland Information

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity to save lives at sea in the waters of UK and Ireland. Funded principally by legacies and donations, the RNLI operates a fleet of lifeboats, crewed by volunteers, based at a range of coastal and inland waters stations. Working closely with UK and Ireland Coastguards, RNLI crews are available to launch at short notice to assist people and vessels in difficulties.

RNLI was founded in 1824 and is based in Poole, Dorset. The organisation raised €210m in funds in 2019, spending €200m on lifesaving activities and water safety education. RNLI also provides a beach lifeguard service in the UK and has recently developed an International drowning prevention strategy, partnering with other organisations and governments to make drowning prevention a global priority.

Irish Lifeboat Stations

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with an operational base in Swords, Co Dublin. Irish RNLI crews are tasked through a paging system instigated by the Irish Coast Guard which can task a range of rescue resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

Famous Irish Lifeboat Rescues

Irish Lifeboats have participated in many rescues, perhaps the most famous of which was the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship off Cork Harbour by the Ballycotton lifeboat in 1936. Spending almost 50 hours at sea, the lifeboat stood by the drifting lightship until the proximity to the Daunt Rock forced the coxswain to get alongside and successfully rescue the lightship's crew.

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895.

FAQs

While the number of callouts to lifeboat stations varies from year to year, Howth Lifeboat station has aggregated more 'shouts' in recent years than other stations, averaging just over 60 a year.

Stations with an offshore lifeboat have a full-time mechanic, while some have a full-time coxswain. However, most lifeboat crews are volunteers.

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895

In 2019, 8,941 lifeboat launches saved 342 lives across the RNLI fleet.

The Irish fleet is a mixture of inshore and all-weather (offshore) craft. The offshore lifeboats, which range from 17m to 12m in length are either moored afloat, launched down a slipway or are towed into the sea on a trailer and launched. The inshore boats are either rigid or non-rigid inflatables.

The Irish Coast Guard in the Republic of Ireland or the UK Coastguard in Northern Ireland task lifeboats when an emergency call is received, through any of the recognised systems. These include 999/112 phone calls, Mayday/PanPan calls on VHF, a signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or distress signals.

The Irish Coast Guard is the government agency responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue operations. To carry out their task the Coast Guard calls on their own resources – Coast Guard units manned by volunteers and contracted helicopters, as well as "declared resources" - RNLI lifeboats and crews. While lifeboats conduct the operation, the coordination is provided by the Coast Guard.

A lifeboat coxswain (pronounced cox'n) is the skipper or master of the lifeboat.

RNLI Lifeboat crews are required to follow a particular development plan that covers a pre-agreed range of skills necessary to complete particular tasks. These skills and tasks form part of the competence-based training that is delivered both locally and at the RNLI's Lifeboat College in Poole, Dorset

 

While the RNLI is dependent on donations and legacies for funding, they also need volunteer crew and fund-raisers.

© Afloat 2020

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