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Clogherhead RNLI Launches €150K Lifeboat Appeal at Drogheda Maritime Festival

Clogherhead RNLI officially launched the station’s €150,000 Shannon lifeboat appeal on the final day of the Drogheda National Maritime Festival (Sunday 11 June) in the presence of the Mayor of Drogheda Oliver Tully and the Drogheda Harbour Master Captain Martin Donnelly. The Shannon is the latest class of all weather lifeboat in the RNLI fleet and the most technologically advanced. It is also the first class of RNLI lifeboat to be named after an Irish river, recognition of the role carried out by lifeboat volunteers in Ireland over the last 190 years.

12th June 2017

The total cost of the new Shannon will be in the region of €2.5 million and the majority of the funding will be provided through an Irish legacy. The charity is asking Clogherhead RNLI to raise €150,000 towards the cost of the project through a community appeal. The launch marks the official start of the appeal which the organisers hope will bring in the funds needed before the lifeboat is due to go on service in 2019.

The current lifeboat based at Clogherhead, Doris Bleasdale, is a Mersey class lifeboat that can reach a top speed of 15 knots. The Mersey was introduced into the RNLI fleet in 1988 and the last Mersey class lifeboat was built in 1993, the same year Clogherhead RNLI received their Mersey class lifeboat.

In the last five years lifeboat crew in Clogherhead have launched their lifeboat 58 times and brought 60 people to safety. With the Shannon class lifeboat those launches will be even faster with the new lifeboat’s top speed of 25 knots. The Shannon is the first lifeboat to be propelled by waterjets instead of traditional propellers, making it the most agile and manoeuvrable all-weather lifeboat in the fleet. Waterjets allow the vessel to operate in shallow waters and be intentionally beached.

The lifeboat was developed to operate in the worst of sea conditions and is self-righting, automatically turning the right side up in the event of a capsize. Its unique hull is designed to minimise slamming of the boat in heavy seas and the shock-absorbing seats further protect the crew from impact when powering through the waves. The lifeboat also has a range of 250 nautical miles, which makes it ideal for offshore searches and rescues in calm and rough seas.

The Shannon lifeboat has another Irish connection. Peter Eyre, an RNLI Engineer from Derry who works at the charity’s headquarters in Poole, was instrumental in the development of the new lifeboat, designing the hull form at the age of 24. He studied at Foyle College before studying Ship Science at the University of Southampton and undertaking a work placement with the RNLI. Peter was also rescued at a young age by Lough Swilly RNLI when the yacht they were on got into difficulty.

The official launch took place on the new Jetty at Drogheda Port. Present at the launch were Drogheda Mayor Oliver Tully, Drogheda Harbour Master Captain Martin Donnelly, Clogerhead RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Declan Levins, Chairman of the Clogherhead Lifeboat Manager Group Noel Phillips, Clogherhead RNLI Fundraising Chairperson Mary Hayes, Lifeboat Coxswain, Tomas Whelehan, Lifeboat Mechanic Padraig Rath, lifeboat crew, station management and the volunteer fundraisers.

Speaking at the launch Drogheda Mayor Oliver Tully paid tribute to the Clogherhead lifeboat crew, ‘ When we hear of the RNLI going to sea we think of Clogherhead and we think of the all the lives you have saved and your predecessors before you. I would like to thank you for the tremendous work that you do. It is the Clogherhead lifeboat but is supported by everyone in the surrounding area.’

The Mayor also paid tribute to lifeboat mechanic Padraig Rath for keeping the current lifeboat in pristine condition for 24 years.

Commenting on the launch of the appeal Coxswain Tomas Whelehan said, ‘We are delighted that this day is finally here and we can announce the news of a Shannon class lifeboat for the east coast. We have been overwhelmed with the goodwill of people and offers of support. This new lifeboat will represent everyone in our communities as well as those who visit our shores for work or pleasure.’

‘Our lifeboat crew launch in all conditions at any time of night or day to bring loved ones home. The least we can do is give them the very best in lifeboat technology. Not all callouts are rescues and sometimes there is tragedy but whatever the call, our crews are always ready to answer it and our lifeboat always ready to be launched.’

For further details of how to get involved with the Clogherhead RNLI Shannon project please contact Clogherhead Lifeboat Station at 041 9822600 and follow us on Facebook for updates facebook.com/ClogherheadRNLI/.

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June 2017 Issue - Vol 30 No.01

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