Christmas Eve lifeboat tragedy remembered at Dun Laoghaire RNLI ceremony on the East Pier
Dun Laoghaire RNLI lifeboat crew gathered today (Christmas Eve) to lay wreaths at sea and remember 15 of their lifeboat colleagues who were lost while on service in gale force conditions to the SS Palme that had run aground off Blackrock, back in 1895. The event has become a Christmas Eve tradition for the station, who now remember all those who have drowned around the coast, on inland waters and abroad.
The ceremony saw lifeboat crew joined by members of the Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard and Civil Defence, who formed an honour guard. Both Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s inshore and all-weather lifeboats launched, and the volunteer crew laid wreaths from the lifeboat in view of the watching public. Broadcaster, PJ Gallagher, a volunteer at Dun Laoghaire RNLI, read an account of the disaster, published at the time of the tragedy.
During the service, Irish UN peacekeeper Private Seán Rooney, was remembered.
The short ceremony took place under the lighthouse at the end of the East Pier and included an ecumenical blessing and music. Joe O’Donnell of ‘Wedding Pipers’ played a lament from the Lighthouse Battery and musician, William Byrne, performed the ‘Ballad of the Palme.’
On 24 December 1895 the 'Civil Service No. 1' Dun Laoghaire lifeboat was wrecked while proceeding to the assistance of the SS Palme of Finland. The entire crew, 15 in total, were drowned. The lifeboat capsized 600 yards from the distressed vessel and, although every effort was made to send help to the lifeboat and to the Palme, nothing could be done.
The second Dun Laoghaire lifeboat 'Hannah Pickard' also launched but it too capsized under sail, fortunately all crew returned safely. The Captain, his wife, child and 17 crew were eventually rescued on the 26th December by the SS Tearaght.
Commenting on the event Dun Laoghaire RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Ed Totterdell said, ‘The loss of fifteen lifeboat volunteers devastated the local community at the time but the RNLI here kept going. Volunteer lifeboat crew came forward then, as they still do, to help those in trouble at sea and on inland waters. We hold this ceremony to honour their memory and also to remember all those we have lost to drowning.’
‘Our lifeboat crew is on call this Christmas as they are every day of the year, and we hope everyone has a safe and peaceful time. It has been a very busy year for callouts for the lifeboat crew. This ceremony is our Christmas tradition and one that is very special to us. I hope that people enjoy the water safely over the festive period and I wish our lifeboat crew and their families and safe and peaceful Christmas.’