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Key handover speech by IWAI Vice-President

It is such a pleasure to stand here today on this, the penultimate stage of what has been a long and sometimes stormy journey for our Association. This collaboration with the RNLI is the ultimate testimony to the amazing generosity of the Rice family and their love of the Irish Waterways and their commitment to the Association they helped found.

It is also a modern-day testament to the drive, commitment, and determination of the Dunrovin sub-committee of Martin Donnelly, Carmel Meegan, Tony Byron, Siobhan Bigley, Kevin Clabby, Jean Kennedy, and the late Tommy McLoughlin. The time and effort that you have given to this project, with a not insignificant global pandemic adding to the challenge, has been colossal and one for which we can never adequately express our thanks. This is your legacy to our Association and one of which you should be immensely proud.

But you’re not getting off the hook just yet. The final stage is of course the fit-out and then the official opening, for which we will be relying on you. I personally cannot wait for the day when Dunrovin can be used to host our hybrid meetings, our archives, training days, and of course social gatherings. Looking forward, the Executive’s next job is to put together a policy for the management, maintenance, and use of our facility but that’s for another day.

I also have to acknowledge the enormous contribution of the RNLI Project Team for their management of the construction of this project to such a high standard. I hope RNLI Lough Ree is enjoying their new lifeboat station and that it will make their challenging and awe-inspiring work just a little bit easier. As Waterways users, we are eternally grateful for the work you do in saving lives and rescuing craft, and we hope the IWAI contribution to your permanent station will help support this vital work.

For years prior to the strategic partnership with RNLI and the joint development, the site in Coosan was ably looked after by the Dunrovin trustees Michael Martin, Damien Delany, and  IWAI Athlone in trust for the whole organisation. We owe a debt of gratitude to them for their tireless work over many years, in the background.

Finally, I would also like to thank our members and branches across this island for their incredible support as without it this project would never have become a reality.

I hope all of you get an opportunity to use and enjoy these IWAI HQ facilities at some point in the future.