The RNLI’s 44th lifeboat station in Ireland has officially been put into service and become a declared search and rescue asset on Lough Ree. The new lifeboat station is based at Coosan Point in Athlone. The RNLI will operate a B class Atlantic 75 lifeboat from temporary station facilities with the cost of the set-up estimated to be around €150,000.
Following meetings last year a team of volunteers was selected to operate the station and crew the lifeboat. There has been an intensive period of training for the volunteer lifeboat crew, which has included months of training on the lough and visits to the RNLI training college in Poole.
Lifeboat operations manager Damien Delaney is very proud of the new station, which he and other local people had been active in securing for the area. He commented, “This is a great day for everyone involved in the setting up of this station. For years the people of the town of Athlone and the surrounding counties of Westmeath, Longford, and Roscommon have supported the RNLI with street collections and various fundraising events”.
Representations were made back in 2010 to the RNLI by the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland with support from various statutory bodies including the Irish Coast Guard, for a declared search and rescue asset to be present on the lake.
The lough is approximately 18 miles long and six miles wide, making it a popular spot for visitors including anglers, rowers, pleasure cruisers, swimmers, and sailors.
Tristan Murphy, RNLI deputy divisional inspector for Ireland, added, “On behalf of the RNLI I wish everyone involved at the new lifeboat station in Lough Ree every success. From the initial meeting right through to the start day, the enthusiasm has been overwhelming. I am delighted that Lough Ree now has its own lifeboat.”
He continued by showing his gratitude to those who had helped, by saying, “I would also like to thank everyone involved in getting the lifeboat station ready for service. Special thanks must also be given to Westmeath County Council who provided the site for the lifeboat station and Lough Ree Yacht Club for allowing us to use their facilities for crew training.”
The station has already had its first callout from a barge which had run aground five miles south of Lanesborough. One person was assisted and brought to safety.