Ballybunion rescuers celebrate 25 years of saving lives

DÓNAL NOLAN

TWENTY five years of saving lives at sea was marked in Ballybunion on Sunday when the local Sea and Cliff Rescue service held an open day at their centre on the Ladie's Beach.

The occasion was marked by recognition of their service from Water Safety Ireland with the unveiling of a special plaque as well as heaps of fun with the kids getting a chance to sit into the new Atlantic 175 rib.

One of the country's most resourceful voluntary rescue units, the Ballybunion Sea and Cliff Rescue unit have saved scores of lives on the waters of Kerry over the past quarter century.

Equipped with the best of gear, their response time is second to none and it is all thanks to the support they continue to enjoy from the people of the region.

The unit was founded by three men all those years ago: Mike Flahive, Frank O'Connor and TJ McCarron.

"We're completely voluntary and share our building with the Coastguard, all of whom are members of our service as well," John Walsh — a member of the unit for 24 years — told The Kerryman.

"It's the support of the public that's our bottom line and we're delighted with the continuing generosity of the people of North Kerry and West Limerick. Without it we simply wouldn't be here today," he said.

One man who was very happy to see the service thriving was CEO of Water Safety Ireland John Leech. Mr Leech unveiled a special plaque commemorating the unit on the centre and paid tribute to their contribution to water safety over the years. The former naval man said the centre was one of the best he had ever seen in his career in water safety.

"The recognition was lovely to hear and we hope to serve the people who use our waters for another 25 years at least," he said.

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