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Dun Laoghaire RNLI to hold Christmas Eve ceremony remembering all who lost their lives through drowning

At noon on Christmas Eve (Sunday 24 December) Dun Laoghaire RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew will gather at the end of the East Pier, to lay wreaths at sea and remember 15 of their lifeboat colleagues, who lost their lives while on a rescue mission in gale force conditions in 1895. The ceremony, which the public are invited to attend, is also held to remember all those who lost their lives through drowning around the coast, on inland waters and abroad.

As the RNLI prepares to mark its 200th year in operation in 2024, the station will mark the anniversary by placing wreaths in the sea from the all-weather lifeboat to pay tribute to their colleagues who lost their lives while on a service. The annual ceremony has become a Christmas Eve tradition for the Dublin lifeboat station. Both Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s inshore and all-weather lifeboat will launch, and volunteer lifeboat crew will lay the wreaths off the east pier in view of the public. This year, Olympic sailing medallist Annalise Murphy will read an account of the disaster, published at the time of the tragedy.

Piper Ruairí Somers will play a lament from the Lighthouse Battery and musician, William Byrne, will perform 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.

The short ceremony takes place under the lighthouse at the end of the East Pier. It includes an ecumenical blessing, a reading from a news article published at the time and music.

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 lifeboat service kept going. This event has grown from honouring an incredible act of service, to remembering all those who have lost their lives through drowning. Our lifeboat crew, as well as so many other lifeboat volunteers, are on call this Christmas, and every day of the year.’