Sunday 20 January 2019

New Fethard lifeboat takes to the waters

Some Fethard RNLI crews testing out the new St Dubhán lifeboat
Some Fethard RNLI crews testing out the new St Dubhán lifeboat

David Looby

A new inshore D class lifeboat has gone on service at Fethard RNLI.

The lifeboat, which arrived at the Fethard lifeboat station on Thursday, replaces Tradewinds which has been used to rescue people off the Hook peninsula since 2007.

The arrival of the lifeboat to be named Naomh Dubhán, comes three years after the station launched a special appeal to raise €65,000 to fund a new lifeboat which would replace Tradewinds, which was nearing her end of service. Following a successful fundraising drive supported by the people of Fethard, the Hook peninsula, Duncannon, Ballyhack and the New Ross area, the funds were raised in 12 months, bringing Thursday's milestone to fruition.

The volunteer lifeboat crew had their last exercise on their retiring lifeboat on Wednesday night before commencing a period of familiarisation training with their new lifeboat on Thursday.

During her time on service in Fethard, Tradewinds, which was generously funded by Bríd Mulhern, a donor from Dunmore, launched 288 times and rescued 149 people.

The honour of naming a new lifeboat is one given to those who donate it and on this occasion, Fethard RNLI put a call out to the people of the Hook peninsula who generously raised the funds, to come up with a fitting name.

Naomh Dubhán was the popular choice with numerous suggestions from people wanting to name the lifeboat after St. Dubhán who came to the Hook Peninsula from Wales in 452 A.D and established a monastery.

It is believed that St. Dubhán lit the first warning beacon for ships on the Hook Peninsula shortly after his arrival. This beacon was maintained by monks for 700 years until Hook lighthouse was built.

Speaking following the arrival of the new lifeboat, Oonagh Hearne Messette, Chair of Fethard RNLI Fundraising, said: 'We are extremely grateful to the community of Fethard and beyond for funding our new lifeboat and we are delighted that their hard work has been rewarded by Naomh Dubhán's arrival at the station today. Our crew and fundraisers will know that every time the lifeboat launches or that a life is saved or a person is rescued, it was made possible with thanks to the efforts of our community.'

First introduced into the RNLI fleet in 1963, the design of the inflatable D class lifeboat continues to evolve to meet changes in demand and technology.

The vessel is highly manoeuvrable and usually operates closer to shore than all-weather lifeboats. The D Class comes into her own for searches and rescues in the surf, shallow water and confined locations - often close to cliffs, among rocks and even inside caves.

The D class lifeboat in Fethard is launched from a trolley, with the help of a launch and recovery Landrover.

With the arrival of a new lifeboat, Fethard RNLI is also taking the opportunity to recruit new volunteers for a variety of roles so that it can successfully continue to provide a search and rescue service in County Wexford.

Hugh Burke, Fethard RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager is calling on any volunteers who may be interested, to come along to the station and find out more: 'We are looking for anyone aged 17 years and over who is willing to offer some of their free time to join what I believe to be, one of the most exhilarating and rewarding voluntary services that is out there.

'Every volunteer receives first class training from the RNLI and learns new skills which can benefit them in many walks of life. Lifeboat crew members need to have a reasonable level of fitness, have good eyesight and not be colour blind. Anyone who would like to volunteer but feels they would not meet the requirements for lifeboat crew should in no way be put off, as shore crew also play an essential role in the launch and recovery of the lifeboat when it goes on service.'

Anyone who feels they have the time and commitment to volunteer or who would like to find out is asked to get in touch with Hugh on 086 3346184.

New Ross Standard