While the last day of the decade was a landmark for any of us, it was certainly a landmark for everyone involved in Kilmore Quay RNLI as they bid farewell to a man with over 50 years service under his belt.
Brian 'Blondie' Kehoe is a name that's become synonymous with the RNLI in the seaside village, having served as a volunteer for 25 years and as an RNLI employee for over 25 years. The last day of 2019 saw Brian's last day in the job of mechanic/coxswain at the Kilmore station and it turned into quite the event as he took to the water for one final exercise.
Brian was joined by crew from the flanking lifeboat stations of Rosslare Harbour, Fethard-on-Sea and Dunmore East, as well as the Coast Guard Rescue 117 helicopter who winched down to the lifeboat to present him with a photograph signed by the whole crew before winching him on board the search and rescue chopper.
As Brian arrived back at the shore, he was given a guard of honour from his colleagues in a fitting display of the esteem in which he is held. On shore, he was joined by his family and photographs were taken to mark the occasion as locals came out to wish him all the best.
'He's been the heart and soul of the RNLI down here for a long time,' said Aidan Bates, LPO at Kilmore Quay Lifeboat Station. 'He will be sorely missed. Hopefully he'll make a return in some small voluntary capacity down the line.'
Among those who paid tribute to Brian was the Chairman of the Rosslare Municipal District Ger Carthy, who said: 'I'd like to wish Brian congratulations on his retirement after 50 years service. So many lives have been saved in that time. A lifetime of dedication to the care of fishing and coastal communities of South Wexford. Thank you from the people of the Rosslare Municipal District for your service. As Cathaoirleach, I look forward to honouring you in the New Year.' An official night to mark Brian's retirement and look back at his long and distinguished service is set to take place in Coast Hotel, Kilmore Quay, on Saturday, January 25.