A marine partnership provides a shared home for Lough Ree RNLI and the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland

A partnership between the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) will result in a shared home for the two organisations in Athlone. The site of the new build is located on the shores of Lough Ree, the original home of the Rice family, who generously bequeathed the site to the IWAI with the wish that the organisation would benefit from its use. Lough Ree RNLI and the IWAI have officially turned the sod to mark the historic occasion, which will see the two organisations share a site for the first time.

The project will see a new state-of-the-art lifeboat station for Lough Ree RNLI and a clubhouse for the IWAI with work expected to be completed later next year. The new lifeboat station will consist of a training room, crew changing area, a mechanic’s workshop, and a boathouse for the station’s lifeboat. In seeking to use long-term sustainable and cost-effective methods, the RNLI will use photovoltaic panels to convert light into electricity, air source heat recovery for hot water, and ground source heating.

The new clubhouse building of the IWAI will consist of a meeting room, catering and WC facilities, an outside events area, and rehabilitated access and parking.

RNLI Lifesaving Lead Owen Medland said “ This new shared facility will provide a permanent lifeboat station in the mid-Shannon region that will offer a top-class search and rescue facility for those living near or visiting our beautiful area. Sustainability is at the forefront of all the RNLI’s projects and the design standards of the building are very impressive.’

‘We are delighted, with the site provided for our permanent lifeboat station and looking forward to having new neighbours. For eight years lifeboat volunteers have operated out of temporary facilities on a site near here. Every second counts when launching our lifeboats and we have the perfect location here at Dunrovin. The new lifeboat station will serve generations of lifesavers and the community of waterway users in the midlands. Thank you to the IWAI for providing us with this incredible location.’

Mr. Alan Kelly President of the IWAI said “Today’s sod-turning is an important historical milestone for the Inland Waterways Association, as it marks the regeneration of Dunrovin for waterways users. This facility represents a clear signal and firm commitment from the IWAI to the community and the area.

“Both the RNLI and IWAI are part of the fabric of the community they operate in and we are thrilled to be working together in partnership as we embark on this journey to build a new clubhouse and lifeboat station. Over the past few years, we’ve worked together building our strategic partnership to reach this point and the next 12 months will be key, for both organisations. It is an exciting time for all waterways users and we hope to be at the centre of it.   The combination of our mutual ethos, national branch, and lifeboat station network, will ensure we are truly able to meet the needs of all waterways users, local, national, and overseas visitors.

“Our new clubhouse continued Mr. Kelly “will also provide a base for like-minded organisations who use the waterways, to conduct their activities both on and off-season. The IWAI is an integral part of any community and has a long history of co-operating supporting and engaging with local communities ensuring the inland waterways are developed with all users in mind.

Speaking at the historic site, Mr. Kelly said, “I would like to pay tribute to all of the volunteers, committees and branches and all our family members of our all Ireland association who have worked hard over the last number of years to reach this stage of creating a new future for our organisation and ensure our site serves the all waterways users from fishermen to rowers to swimmers to sailors to boaters, both local and visiting who can safely enjoy the magnificent facilities of the River Shannon and Lough Ree.”

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