At a special naming ceremony and service of dedication held in Coosan Point on Saturday last, Lough Ree RNLI officially opened its new state-of-the-art lifeboat station and named its inshore Atlantic 85 class lifeboat, Tara Scougall, in memory of a beloved, daughter, wife and mother, the event coinciding with Lough Ree RNLI’s tenth anniversary on the lake.
The honour of officially opening the station went to the RNLI’s Chief Executive Mark Dowie who was visiting from England, while the privilege of naming the lifeboat went to Eleanor and Edward, children of the late Tara Scougall, after whom the lifeboat is named,
Tara, daughter of John and Diana, and wife to James, was only 43 when she died prematurely from cancer. She had lived an active life on the water having been introduced to it as a child by her late father John. Tara shared her father’s passion for sailing and for a period, she also ran an online yachting and boating magazine. An avid traveller and explorer in her professional life, Tara was one of a Microsoft team which was responsible for the creation of Expedia. Tara’s father John, meanwhile, received a lifetime achievement award from the RNLI for his work in supporting the charity.
The new lifeboat station at Lough Ree was built at a cost of €1.2 million on a site kindly donated by the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland. Taking just over two years to complete construction, the state-of-the-art facility provides an ideal training base for the volunteer crew and immediate access to the lake for the lifeboat. It replaces the temporary accommodation at Coosan Point where the volunteer crew first launched their lifeboat from 10 years ago on the 28 June. During the last decade, Lough Ree RNLI has responded to over 460 calls for help and brought more than 1,400 people to safety.
During today’s naming ceremony, Mark Dowie officially opened the lifeboat station before handing it into the care of Damien Delaney, founding member of Lough Ree RNLI who received the keys to the station.
James Scougall, husband of the late Tara, then handed the lifeboat into the care of the RNLI and having accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the charity, Mr Dowie then handed her into the care of the station where it was accepted by Kevin Ganly, Lough Ree RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager.
During his address, Mr Ganly said the event was a special occasion for the lifeboat station adding that the crew were most grateful to the Scougall family for their generous gift in memory of their daughter, wife and mother:
"As Lifeboat Operations Manager along with the deputy launching authorities, part of my job is to authorise her launch when requested. It’s my job to send a message to the volunteers, asking them to get down to the station as quick as possible.
"When the crew arrive here and get kitted up and head out on the lake, we’ll have peace of mind because this lifeboat will help to keep them safe as they save others. On behalf of all the station volunteers, I would like to thank Diana, James, Eleanor and Edward and the late John and Tara. Your generosity has given Lough Ree a lifesaver," Mr Ganly asserted.
The Tara Scougall replaces the first lifeboat in service at Lough Ree, the Dorothy May.
"As Lough Ree RNLI embarks on its latest phase it’s apt that the volunteer crew on the Lake of Kings will use a lifeboat named after a woman whose first name invokes Tara – the seat of the High Kings of Ireland," Mr Ganly added.
Father Patrick Murphy and Reverend William Steacy led the congregation in a Service of Dedication before Eleanor and Edward were invited forward to do the naming.
A crowd of well-wishers turned up to see the lifeboat officially named with a bottle of champagne poured over the side before it launched at the end of the ceremony.
Throughout the event, guests were treated to music and song performed by Dermod Foy and PJ Stacey, who together delivered the lifeboat anthem, 'Home from the Sea' and 'Where the Three Counties Meet'. The national anthem was led by the Band 2 Brigade who also led the lifeboat launch at the end of the ceremony with a performance of Zadok the Priest by George Frideric Handel.
Among the guests on the platform party were Mary Hearty, Lough Ree RNLI Lifeboat Administrative Officer, who welcomed guests and opened proceedings, RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie who officially opened the lifeboat station and accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the RNLI, Damien Delaney, founding member of Lough Ree RNLI, James Scougall who handed the lifeboat into the care of the RNLI and his children Eleanor and Edward who named the lifeboat, Kevin Ganly, Lough Ree RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, and Lough Ree RNLI Helm Shane McCormack who gave a vote of thanks and closed proceedings.
The Atlantic 85 class lifeboat was introduced into the RNLI fleet in 2005. The lifeboat is 8.4m in length and weighs 1.8 tonnes. Improvements on its predecessor include a faster top speed of 35 knots, radar, provision for a fourth crew member and more space for survivors.