There were double celebrations for the RNLI in Cork this weekend with two new lifeboats officially named and blessed in Youghal and Crosshaven.
At a special ceremony held on Saturday, Youghal RNLI officially named its new Atlantic 85 lifeboat, Gordon and Phil, while on Sunday Crosshaven RNLI named its new lifeboat John and Janet.
The honour of naming Youghal’s new lifeboat went to eight-year-old Izzy O’Connell, and Albert Muckley, Deputy Launching Authority.
Izzy who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2014 is a friend of the station. The lifeboat crew who have admired Izzy’s determination and courage, wanted her to play a special part in their day.
Ahead of the naming, Catherine Fitzgerald Hourigan, who has held several fundraising events in aid of the station, was invited to represent the late donor Gwenda Bull, and hand the new lifeboat to the RNLI.
Peter CrowIey, RNLI Vice President, accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the RNLI before handing her over into the care of Youghal Lifeboat Station. The lifeboat was then accepted on behalf of the crew by Lifeboat Operations Manager Fergus Hopkins.
Gwenda Bull, who lived in Brighton, East Sussex, admired the work of the RNLI as did her family. She funded various equipment for Shoreham lifeboat station and went to see the new Tamar lifeboat arrive at Shoreham back in December 2010.
Miss Bull also kindly funded the purchase of a new inshore lifeboat, to be named Gordon and Phil in memory of her parents. She was happy for the lifeboat to go on station wherever it would be of most benefit around the coast, so her funds were used to purchase the new B class lifeboat in Youghal.
Mr Hopkins remembered and thanked Miss Bull, adding that her generosity had given Youghal RNLI a lifesaver.
‘When the crew arrive here,’ he said, ‘and get kitted up, and head out to sea, we’ll have peace of mind. Because this lifeboat will help to keep them safe, as they save others’.
Pat O’Keefe, fundraising committee member recounted a historical call out before the Very Reverend David Herlihy, Parish Priest, the Very Reverend Alan Marley and the Reverend Tim Kingston lead the Service of dedication. Izzy and Albert then officially named the lifeboat Gordon and Phil, while pouring a bottle of champagne over the lifeboat which then put to sea.
The new lifeboat replaced Patricia Jennings which during her 13 years in Youghal launched 175 times with its crews saving nine lives and rescuing 233 people.
The celebrations moved to Crosshaven this afternoon where the honour of naming the lifeboat went to young Paddy Crowley, son of the late Con, who was a helm at the station prior to his sudden death last year.
Irish marine journalist Tom MacSweeney was invited to represent the anonymous donor of the new lifeboat John and Janet and hand her over to the RNLI.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr MacSweeney said: ‘On this occasion, the incredibly generous donor of this new lifeboat has decided to remain anonymous. We can all agree this is an incredible act of kindness and so I offer my sincere thanks to the donor and I know this lifeboat will be a much loved asset to the community of Crosshaven.’
Clayton Love, RNLI Vice President, accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the RNLI and handed her into the care of the Crosshaven lifeboat crew. It was Mr Love’s family who kindly donated the station’s former lifeboat, Miss Betty.
On accepting the lifeboat, Patsy Fegan, Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘People from all walks of life represent our volunteers who without a thought at any time day or night will drop everything when their pager goes off and come down to the station. When the crew arrive here, they prepare themselves and the boat, don their suits and go to sea to save the lives of others. This new Atlantic 85 class lifeboat will help to keep our volunteer crew safe, as they rescue others.’
The Very Reverend Fr Pat Stevenson and Reverend Isobel Jackson lead the Service of Dedication before Paddy Crowley, son of the late Con, officially named the lifeboat John and Janet.
Last year, Crosshaven RNLI launched 42 times and rescued 50 people. The new lifeboat replaces Miss Betty, the station’s first permanent lifeboat, which was on service in Crosshaven since the station was formally established 14 years ago.
The new state of the art Atlantic 85 lifeboat was introduced into the RNLI fleet in 2005. The lifeboat is 8.4 metres in length and weighs 1.8 tonnes. Improvements on its predecessor include a faster top speed of 35 knots, radar, provision for a fourth crew member and more space for survivors.
Fast, manoeuvrable and reliable, the B class operates in rough weather conditions, capable in daylight up to force seven and at night, to force six winds.
The new lifeboat, an Atlantic 85 is the latest version of the B class.