Over 200 people attended the welcoming ceremony for the new declared search and rescue asset on Lough Ree. The RNLI’s 44th Lifeboat station in Ireland was welcomed by Greg Whelan President IWAI and Chairman of the RNLI Audit and Risk Committee Lord Michael Boyce, Retired Chief of the Defence Staff in Britain. Also attending the event were guests, Sir Timothy Laurence, the second husband of Princess Anne, the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II Peter Killeen RNLI Ireland council member, John Coyle Galway the only Irish RNLI Trustee, members Irish Coast Guard and the members of the Inland Waterways Association.
Based in Coosan the new RNLI rescue service is an initiative of the Athlone Branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland and other water organisations in the town. “There have been many attempts down through the years to set up a rescue service on Lough Ree, said Kevin Clabby Chairman Athlone Branch IWAI, “and the association is delighted that all it’s hard work has finally paid off, and the service has come to fruition.” Mr. Clabby continued, “Athlone is a very popular boating destination with hundreds of boats navigating its waters every year. Our branch alone has over 300 members and with the addition of the private and public marinas and the boating tourist, the lake is a key attraction for boaters of all kinds. A lot of water sports enthusiasts and anglers use the lake and it is very fitting that there is now a rescue service available. Water users can now feel safe in the knowledge that there is a rescue service there.”
Many visiting boaters to the Shannon,” outlined Mr. Clabby, “were reassured now that Lough Ree has a rescue service. The lake can be a very rough place if a storm breaks out, and many boaters did not feel safe navigating its waters. The rescue service will help promote the lake as a destination of choice.” Mr. Clabby said “Credit for the facility goes to Dave McCabe Chairman RNLI locally, his committee, station manager Damien Delany and all the local water based clubs and enthusiasts from the Sub Aqua to Lough Ree Yacht Club. But the real credit goes to the team of volunteers who respond to the call to service often in difficult conditions to rescue stranded boaters and water users. Our association will work closely with the RNLI with many of our members actively engaged in all levels of the service and we will continue to help with the fundraising efforts to ensure the service operates at the top of its game with the safest of equipment provided by the RNLI.
Mr. Clabby added “The IWAI both locally and nationally, are pleased that boaters from all organisations including anglers, sailors, pleasure cruisers, divers, swimmers, and all other water users are safer as a result of the installation of a lifeboat service on Lough Ree. We will always need to fundraise to support the RNLI, who survive without any state funding, and we will be hoping that the service on the local waters of Lough Ree will resonate with the general public who will support fundraising efforts which will soon begin”. Mr. Clabby concluded, “As long as the IWAI association is here the RNLI will have a home at Coosan in Dunrovin, the home of Harry Rice the founding member of the association.” founding member of the association.”