Lifeboat volunteers risk their lives to save 1,041 at sea
LIFEBOAT crews braved sometimes appalling conditions last year to save more than 1,000 lives.
RNLI boats put to sea 939 times and brought 1,041 people to safety. The majority of callouts were to pleasure craft (482 cases), while 115 launches were to help fishing boats.
Dun Laoghaire RNLI brought the highest number of people to safety, with 76 rescued during 46 callouts.
Kilmore Quay RNLI in Co Wexford brought 71 people to safety during 29 callouts.
The busiest lifeboat station last year was Bangor in Co Down, which launched 53 times and rescued 53 people. More than half of the operations were carried out in darkness.
Other busy stations included Crosshaven in Co Cork, where the inshore lifeboat was launched 42 times and rescued 31 people.
Baltimore RNLI in Co Cork launched its two lifeboats 41 times and rescued 41 people, with crews carrying out almost three-quarters of operations in darkness.
The second Dublin all-weather lifeboat station in Howth launched 40 times and rescued 48 people.
The RNLI's newest lifeboat station, at Coosan Point on Lough Ree near Athlone, Co Westmeath, which began a one-year trial last June, had a busy first six months, launching 14 times and bringing 18 people to safety.
RNLI crews also had 122 callouts to people classed as "ashore", mostly those trapped on rocks and cliffs.
A number of medical evacuations from offshore islands were also carried out. This is a vital part of the service provided by lifeboat stations such as Arranmore off Co Donegal and the Aran Islands off Co Galway.
In comparison with 2011, last year saw a slight drop in lifeboat launches, down from 983, but an increase in the number of people rescued, up from 906.
Martyn Smith, the RNLI operations manager for Ireland, said: "The figures show that our volunteers dedicate a huge amount of their time to saving lives at sea.
"To know that our volunteers are on call every day of the year is reassuring for all of us who venture out to sea and on loughs.
"While many callouts can be extremely challenging, our volunteer lifeboat crews take very seriously the responsibility of bringing loved ones home."
Mr Smith thanked those who supported the RNLI, whether by giving up their time or by making a donation.
The lifeboats service in Ireland has 2,000 volunteer crew members and 500 management volunteers on shore at 44 stations.