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The Atlantic 75 'Patricia Jennings' rigid lifeboat launches from Youghal RNLI lifeboat station. Pic: Larry Cummins
The Atlantic 75 'Patricia Jennings' rigid lifeboat launches from Youghal RNLI lifeboat station. Pic: Larry Cummins
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Sea Echoes: Never forgetting the bravery of our lifeboat volunteers

The RNLI operates 59 lifeboats from 45 stations in the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Between Ireland and Britain, there are more than 40,000 volunteers involved in the lifeboat service, directed and supported by professional staff.

What is the reward for being a crew member of a lifeboat, subject to call-out at any time of the day or night, in any type of weather?

The answer was given to me many years ago when I interviewed a crew member after a successful rescue in West Cork: “When you see someone walk up the pier after we have brought them ashore, who wouldn’t be doing that if the lifeboat hadn’t been there, that’s reward enough.” 

No monetary payment could surpass that response which has stayed in my mind throughout my journalistic career when I reported on maritime tragedies which brought sadness and rescues that had joy.

That association with the lifeboats will take me to Fota Island Park on Sunday for the annual RNLI Reindeer Run where to encourage and thank, as MC, all those taking part.

Last year, RNLI lifeboats launched 173 times on the Cork coastline, bringing 209 people to safety. Across Ireland, there were 1,136 lifeboat launches and 1,649 people were rescued. 

That is worth remembering as Christmas approaches and how many families will have loved ones in their home, thanks to the RNLI, which protects its independence from State control, though funding is offered and depends on public donations for the majority of its funding.

This is the sixth year of the event. Registration is online at: rnli.org/reindeerrun 

REASONS TO BE POSITIVE ABOUT MARITIME HERITAGE 

The President of the Maritime Institute which runs the National Maritime Museum at Dun Laoghaire has said: “there are more reasons than ever to be positive about maritime heritage.” 

That is encouraging from Richard McCormick who cites the 200-year-celebration of “Dun Laoghaire Harbour’s proud maritime tradition” and the several initiatives by Dublin Port to involve the public, the ‘Friend and Foe 1917 Maritime Heritage Weekend’ held in Dunmore East, Co.Waterford, amongst the examples. 

He cites these and others in his President’s Address published in the Autumn edition of the Institute’s Newsletter, prior to its general meeting next Saturday. 

Hopefully next year Cork will have a new Maritime Museum, located at Passage West where the dedicated local volunteer committee is advancing plans to open by the time of the annual Summer maritime weekend in the town. 

Cork, with its proud marine heritage and history, needs a maritime museum and Cork Port could look at what Dublin has done to create and gain more public interest in its workings.

HUMAN NOISE DISTURBS DOLPHINS 

Human-made noise disturbs communication between dolphins and hinders their sleep, according to a study carried out in Hawaiian waters by students of Duke University, a private research university at Durham, North Carolina, U.S.A. 

“Man-made noise” was studied in four bays along Hawaii’s coast and it was concluded that general vessels, military operations and aquaculture were the main activities creating noise levels which caused problems for dolphins.

ILLEGAL FISHING A NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT 

Illegal and unregulated fishing supports transnational crime, piracy, insurgency and terrorism, it has been claimed in a report by the National Geographic Society and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. Both organisations say that governments around the world should regard these activities as “national security issues.” 

Email: tommacsweeneymarine@gmail.com

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