New RNLI station for fishing village hit by tragedy
Published 04/09/2014 | 11:34
A fishing town plunged into tragedy when five crewmen lost their lives at sea has launched its first lifeboat.
The RNLI’s has opened its 45th lifeboat station in Ireland at Union Hall in Cork for a two year trial period.
Five men drowned when the Tit Bonhomme trawler his rocks in nearby Glandore on January 15 2012, sparking a massive 26 day sea and air search for their bodies. One crewman survived.
Tragedy revisited the close knit community again this summer when two divers died while exploring the wreck of a World War II German U-boat.
The RNLI said it will operate a B class Atlantic 75 lifeboat, called Maritime Nation, from temporary station facilities and launch from a slipway adjacent to Keelbeg Pier.
“This is a great day for everyone involved in the setting up of this station,” said lifeboat operations manager John Kelleher.
“For years the community in Union Hall and the surrounding areas of West Cork have supported the RNLI with street collections and various fundraising events.
“Even though we did not have a station in Union Hall we knew how important it was to have the lifeboat service in Ireland.”
A volunteer crew of 16 – including GAA footballing brothers Shane and Stephen Hurley, a civil engineer, garda, electrician, carpenter, fisherman, fishmonger, fireman and female crew member Carla Nugent - will man the lifeboat.
“To see this group of volunteers coming together and training with the lifeboat and now going on service is a proud day for me,” Mr Kelleher added.
The five fishermen who died in the Tit Bonhomme tragedy included skipper Michael Hayes (52), Kevin Kershaw (21) and three Egyptian fishermen, Wael Mohamad (32), Shaban Attia (26) and Saied aly Eldin (24). Mr Kershaw was on his first ever fishing expedition.
The lifeboat was previously on service in Galway city, Red Bay in Co Antrim and Crosshaven in Co Cork and RNLI chiefs will decide after two years whether to establish a permanent lifeboat station.