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Clogherhead RNLI celebrates 125 years in service!

The RNLI is celebrating its bicentenary this year having been founded in 1824 by Sir William Hillary who had a vision for a service dedicated to saving lives at sea.

At a local level, Clogherhead RNLI is celebrating a significant birthday this year also. It is 125 years in service having come into existence in 1899 when, under the auspices of the RNLI, a corrugated galvanised iron boathouse, on a concrete foundation with a short slipway, was built near the beach, close to where the existing boathouse stands today.

The first lifeboat placed there was the ‘Charles Whitton’ which cost £582! “The lifeboat station that stands in Clogherhead now houses a much more technologically advanced boat compared to the vessels that served the north east coastline back then.

Nevertheless, it is proudly employed by our volunteer crew to do the same job as all its predecessors did over the last 125 years, to help save lives at sea” says Clogherhead RNLI chairman Noel Phillips.

Clogherhead RNLI’s 125th Anniversary is a very proud milestone for Clogherhead and the wider community. Clogherhead is a fishing village and, back then, a large proportion of the lifeboat crews came from that background with plenty of sea-faring experience.

While some of today’s crew members are involved in fishing commercially or are engaged in other maritime professions, many are working in shore based jobs ranging from construction to farming to sales. What is important is that, as has always been the case, crew members are ‘on call’ 365 days a year, 24 hours a day ready to respond to that personal pager that can sound at any time of the day or night!

For that reason, the volunteer crew members live locally and it’s wonderful to see the level of commitment they have to their regular training exercises and availability to launch and crew the lifeboat at a moment’s notice. Historically, this has always been the case. The level of training required for shore and boat crew is closely monitored by personnel within the RNLI itself. Aside from all that there are volunteer administrators, fund-raisers and RNLI Shop staff at Clogherhead RNLI who all work together to keep the ‘boat afloat’ so to speak.

The RNLI is often confused with government agencies that are funded by the state but it is, and always has been, a charitable organisation depending on the public for support. It is a testament then to that unwavering support that the Clogherhead station is still in existence 125 years on. It is still manned by a crew of volunteers as has always been the case down through the years. “The Lifeboat continues to be a source of pride for Clogherhead and the area’s community, providing a vital voluntary service on the NE coast” says Clogherhead RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, Tony Campion

“The community’s support is essential to help us continue the great tradition of saving lives at sea along our coast, through the voluntary efforts of our local men and women in the Lifeboat service at Clogherhead”

The station at Clogherhead now has a state of the art Shannon class all-weather lifeboat the ‘Michael O’Brien’ which arrived in 2019. It serves the north-east coast sometimes in collaboration with its sister stations in Skerries and Kilkeel and often with the Coast Guard land and air facilities and the Garda.

On the weekend of Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th of May, as part of the Clogherhead RNLI 125 celebrations, there will be two events. On Saturday 18th at 10.30a.m. there will be a Clogherhead RNLI 125 Celebration Dip at the little strand (beside the station) where sea swimmers are invited to participate in an aerial photo on the beach in 1-2-5 formation before a dip in the sea! There will be light refreshments available in the station afterwards.

On Sunday 19th May at 2p.m. there will be a Clogherhead RNLI 125th Celebration at the lifeboat station commencing with a short inter-denominational service followed by a wreath laying ceremony. There will be a historical exhibition in the lifeboat house. Music will be supplied by Drogheda Male Voice Choir, Oriel Sounds, Triskell and various other artists. Light refreshments will be served. Face painting and a sandcastle competition are also promised! The RNLI Shop will be open on both days and, of course, there will be a raffle! All are invited to attend.