Station history

A station was opened at Rosslare by the Institution in 1838 following a request from the Inspector General of Coastguards, the Corporation of Wexford granting £30 towards the expenses of establishment. The first lifeboat was one transferred from the Newcastle, Co Down Station, and she was replaced during the following year by a new one. 

Early records are incomplete but apparently the station lapsed from some time after 1851 until 1858, when a small lifeboat was placed at Rosslare. Following the wreck of the American emigrant ship Pomona in April 1859, with the loss of 386 out of the 409 people on board, a second larger lifeboat was stationed afloat in November of that year.

The first of these stations was known as Rosslare Fort and the other as Wexford. In 1866, both stations were known as Wexford, the afloat boat as No 1, the shore based boat No 2. A station known as Rosslare Harbour was opened in 1896 and Wexford No 2 was closed in 1897. The Rosslare Harbour station was closed in 1921, following the placing of a motor lifeboat with a permanent crew at Wexford (Rosslare Point). This was now the only station.

During December 1924 and January 1925, gales and very heavy seas overwhelmed the station and it was abandoned. It was eventually washed away.

The lifeboat was kept at Wexford itself until 1927 when the present station was opened at Rosslare Harbour.

1825

Silver Medal awarded to Richard Ross, Chief Boatman of the Coastguard, for the rescue of two of the crew of the ship Mary and Eliza on 20 October 1825.

1829

The Silver Medal awarded to Thomas Fletcher, Coastguard, for the rescue by boat of 10 people from the brig Two Brothers wrecked in severe weather near Rosslare on 24 April 1829.

1837

Gold Medal awarded to Mr Martin Walsh, Master of the Schooner Alicia of Wexford in connection with the wreck of the American ship Glasgow on 15 February 1837, when 82 people were saved.

1839

Gold Medal awarded to Lieut S J Lett, Chief Officer of Coastguard at Rosslare, in connection with the wreck of the ship Ariadne on 25 November 1838, when eight people were saved.

Silver Medal awarded to Mr Thomas Bates, Chief Officer of Coastguard at Wexford, in connection with the wreck of the Schooner Thistle on 31 January 1839, when five were saved.

1840

Silver Medal awarded to Mark Devereux, Pilot, in connection with the schooner Mary wrecked in a very heavy gale on 13 November 1840. Mr Devereux rode into the surf to bring a rope from the schooner, and was thrown down by the violent sea before achieving this. All the crew were brought off using the rope.

1842

Silver Medal awarded to Dr John Waddy for the rescue, by going into the sea, of a man from the schooner Sarah wrecked in tremendous seas at Bannow on 26 January 1842.

1844

Silver Medal awarded to Patrick Carberry for the rescue of five of the crew of the Italian ship San Salvador, which was wrecked at Wexford on 25 December 1843.

1849

Silver Medals awarded to Phillip Mitten, Master of the boat Zephyr and to Thomas Rossiter, Master of the boat Steamer, for the rescue of the crew of 20 of the American ship Republic that was wrecked at Blackwater Bank, near Wexford on 18 December 1848.

Silver Medal awarded to Captain William Toole of the Militia for the rescue by boat of two men and three boys from the ship Prince Albert on 19 April 1849.

1852

Silver Medal awarded to Mr Martin Costello, the Silver Second-Service Clasp to Mr Devereux, Pilot Master, for rescuing all but two of 419 crew and passengers of the emigrant ship Bhurtpoor, wrecked on the Long Bank on 18 September 1852. Also a Silver Medal each to Coastguards R Howe and S D Pierson of Ballygrany Station for saving the lives of two men who were seen drifting in a disabled boat in the sea next day. The lifeboat at Kilmore rescued 30 of the 419.

1858

Silver Medal awarded to Coastguard Edward Waugh in acknowledgement of his gallant services in swimming out, at the risk of his life, to catch a breaker, by which means the whole of the crew of seven of the Brig Arctic, which stranded during a south-south easterly gale on Kilgormin Strand, Wexford, were ultimately rescued on 6 April 1858.

1865

Silver Third-Service Clasp awarded to Mark Devereux, Master Pilot, for putting off in the Rosslare lifeboat and aiding to save, under very difficult circumstances, one man from the Schooner Teazer of Goole, which was totally wrecked during a heavy gale on the North Bar on 30 January 1865.

1877

Silver Medal awarded to Mr Henry Carr, Customs Officer, for putting off in a small boat and rescuing at great risk the crew of six of the fishing boat Morning Star of Wexford, which had stranded on Wexford Bar during a strong south south westerly wind, with a rough sea, on 22 January 1877.

1878

Silver Medal awarded to Mr Marcus Boyle in acknowledgement of his long and gallant services as coxswain of the Wexford lifeboat and especially on the occasion of the service rendered by the boat to the stranded steamer Montagu on 25 April 1878.

1884

Silver Second-Service Clasp awarded to Marcus Boyle in recognition of his good services in rescuing life from shipwreck during the 26 years he was coxswain of the Wexford No 2 lifeboat.

1896

Silver Medal awarded to Thomas Wickham for long and gallant services as coxswain of the Wexford No 1 lifeboat.

1898

Wexford No 2 station closed.

1906

Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Edward Wickham for a gallant service on 18 March 1906, when they rescued the crew of six of the yawl Puffin of Wexford, which was wrecked in a strong south-south-westerly gale with a rough sea.

1914

On 20 February 1914, the Norwegian Schooner Mexico ran ashore on South Keeragh Island. The Fethard lifeboat was launched but capsized, and nine of her crew of 14 were drowned. The remaining five gained the island from where they assisted eight of the crew of the Mexico to get ashore. Three days later two men were saved by the Dunmore East lifeboat and 10 by the Wexford lifeboat. One man died on the island.

Commander T Holmes RN, Chief Inspector of Lifeboats, who travelled from London and directed the rescue operations was awarded the Silver Medal; the Silver Second-Service Clasp was awarded to Coxswain E Wickham and Silver Medals to Walter Power, James Wickham and William Duggan.

1921

Lifeboat house of Wexford No 2 station sold to the Great Southern & Western Railway for £50.

1926

The Honorary Secretary, W J B Moncas, awarded a pair of binoculars in connection with a shore boat case.

The lifeboat had the curious experience of rescuing a man from land on 7 November; the signalman of the Pilot Station and Rosslare Point was surrounded by the tide and his house was in danger of collapsing.

1927

The Institution began its experiments with wireless by installing a wireless receiving set and transmitting set in ON 700 K.E.C.F. and the lifeboat carried a fully certified operator.

1927

The Silver Second-Service Clasp was awarded to Coxswain J Wickham and the Bronze Medal to Mr W J B Moncas, Honorary Secretary for a service on the night of 20 October 1929, when the Plymouth Schooner Mountblairy was driven ashore in a whole north-easterly gale with a very heavy sea. By the aid of her searchlight the lifeboat found the wreck and the crew of five quickly jumped into the lifeboat. Great skill was needed to get clear of the schooner and the rocks that surrounded her.

1938

A Centenary Vellum awarded to station.

1952

New lifeboat sent to station was named after the first President of Ireland from 1938-1945.

1953

Coxswain James Wickham, a former Rosslare coxswain, died on 6 December, aged 78.  Coxswain Wickham was a son of the late Coxswain Thomas Wickham of the Wexford lifeboat. James succeeded his brother, Edward, as coxswain in 1925. When the Wexford station was closed in 1928 he continued as coxswain of the Rosslare Harbour lifeboat until he retired in 1941. Coxswain Edward Wickham twice won the Silver Medal for bravery, the first time in 1914 for the rescue from the Schooner Mexico. On that occasion he and another lifeboatman, William Duggan, volunteered to man a dinghy to rescue some Norwegian sailors who had been clinging to the Keeragh Rocks for two days. The dinghy was pierced by a rock on the journey out but Wickham stuffed the hole with a loaf of bread wrapped in an oilskin. His Second-Service Clasp was for the rescue of five men from the schooner Mountblairy of Plymouth on 20 October 1929 in a gale. For his work of rescuing life at sea he was decorated by five countries - Great Britain, Eire, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway. His Irish award was the Gold Medal of the Gaelic Athletic Association. He and Duggan were the only two men to win this award outside the field of sport.

1955

A Silver Medal was awarded to Coxswain Richard Walsh and Bronze Medals to Second Coxswain William Duggan and Motor Mechanic Richard Hickey and The Thanks of the Institution on inscribed on Vellum were awarded to the other members of the crew for a service on 27/28 November 1954 when the tanker World Concord broke in half in a storm of exceptional violence in the Irish Sea.  The aft portion of the vessel drifted towards the Welsh coast where the 35 men on board were rescued by the St David's lifeboat.  The fore part of the vessel drifted towards the Irish Coast and the Rosslare Harbour lifeboat was launched and rescued the remaining seven men including the Master.  During this service, great courage and skill was shown by the crews of both lifeboats.  Medals were also awarded to the coxswain and crew of the St David's lifeboat.

Crew awarded a case of rum by Sugar Manufacturing Association of Jamaica for longest winter service of 26 hours on 27/27 November 1954.

1979

The Bronze Medal of the Institution awarded to Second Coxswain Richard Seamus McCormack in recognition of the courage, leader-ship and seamanship displayed by him when the lifeboat under his command rescued two of the crew of the fishing boat Notre Dame du Sacre Coeur which was sinking three and a half miles south-west by south of Tuskar Rock on 7 December 1978.

1985

New Shore facilities constructed. Includes a lifeboat store/workshop and an assembly room, toilet and shower facilities.

1996

A new afloat berth was provided especially for the present Arun lifeboat and involved the dredging of the harbour to provide sufficient depth and the provision of a dolphin for the boat to moor alongside and an access bridge. A new boarding gangway was also provided.

Due to the lifeboat berth being in close proximity to the Ro-Ro berth at Rosslare, the Institution looked into the relocation of the lifeboat to a small harbour in the Western extremity of the harbour area. This was subsequently found to be suitable and construction of the new berth successfully complete in April 1996.

2000

A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution, Mr Peter Nicholson, awarded to Michael Sinnott, for rescuing a man who had fallen between a 140 tonne trawler and the quay on the morning of 2 June 2000.

2001

Temporary station lifeboat Arun class ON1059 Mabel Williams commenced service on 14 September 2001 until 11 February 2004.

2004

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Coxswain Brendan Pitt in recognition of his leadership and seamanship when the lifeboat saved the disabled fishing vessel Alf and her crew of five on 5 November 2003.  This was a long and difficult tow in atrocious sea conditions.

The new Severn class lifeboat ON1276 Donald & Barbara Broadhead was placed on service on 9 July 2004. This lifeboat was funded by the legacy of the late Mrs F B A Broadhead. Lifeboat On1159 Mabel Williams has been withdrawn.

New protective berth completed in September at a cost of £1.218,750.

2007

A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution Admiral Sir Jock Slater presented to Coxswain Brendan Pitt in recognition of his seamanship and leadership during a joint service with the Kilmore Quay lifeboat on 26 March 2006 when the disabled tanker Breaksea was safely got under tow and prevented from going ashore near Tusker Rock. The service was conducted in very rough seas and southerly force 8 winds.

MEDAL RECORD

Thirty-one Medals have been awarded - Two Gold, 25 Silver and four Bronze, the last being won in 1979.

FOREIGN AWARD

King of Norway gave Silver Medals in connection with wreck of Schooner Mexico in 1914.