LIFEBOAT crews at Dun Laoghaire will tomorrow remember 15 heroes who gave their lives during a Christmas Eve rescue attempt which paralysed Ireland.
In what has become an annual tradition, the two lifeboats based at Dun Laoghaire will be launched to lay wreaths at sea to commemorate the brave crew who perished off Blackrock on Christmas Eve 1895. The rescue, chronicled in a new book on the RNLI, Mayday! Mayday!, happened when the steamship Palme from Finland got into difficulties and ran aground near Blackrock in a storm that was later dubbed "the most severe of the century".
The 15 drowned when a new lifeboat, Civil Service Number Seven, responded to the Palme's distress rockets but before it reached the ship, it was flipped over by a mighty wave.
Bodies washed up on the Dun Laoghaire coastline on Christmas Day and it was St Stephen's Day before the crew of the Palme was rescued.
"All lives lost at sea in 2011 will also be included in the ceremony," an RNLI spokesman at Dun Laoghaire said.
A ceremony will be held at the lighthouse end of the East Pier at midday on Christmas Eve, which will include music, an ecumenical blessing, a contemporary newspaper account of the 1895 tragedy and a piped lament. A special replica of the monument erected at the RNLI headquarters in Poole, Dorset, to commemorate all lifeboat crews lost on duty, including the 15 Dun Laoghaire crew, will be presented to the station by Terence Johnson, chairman of the Lifeboat management group and will be on permanent display at the station.