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Dun Laoghaire RNLI remember all lives lost at sea during Christmas Eve ceremony

Lifeboats News Release

This year a special wreath will be laid to commemorate the loss of Irish Coast Guard volunteer Caitriona Lucas

Dun Laoghaire RNLI to remember those who lost their lives at sea during the year

RNLI/Dun Laoghaire

Dun Laoghaire RNLI to remember those who lost their lives at sea during the year

Dun Laoghaire RNLI will hold their annual Christmas Eve ceremony to remember all those who lost their lives at sea in the past year. The annual commemoration marks the anniversary of the 15 volunteer lifeboat crew members from Dun Laoghaire RNLI who died during a rescue on Christmas Eve in 1895.

The short ceremony is held at the lighthouse at the end of the East Pier in Dun Laoghaire at midday on Christmas Eve. The service includes music, an ecumenical blessing, a reading of a newspaper account printed at the time of the 1895 tragedy and concluding with a guard of honour for the wreath-bearers as they proceed to sea on the lifeboats to lay the tributes.

The ceremony will last about 20 minutes with upwards of 200 people, including families, expected to walk the pier to join the ceremony at noon.

In previous years, two wreaths have been laid at sea but this year a third will be added in memory of Caitríona Lucas of the Irish Coast Guard unit at Doolin who died during a search operation on 12 September this year.

A Guard of Honour will be provided by the Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard Unit and Civil Defence volunteers while the Dun Laoghaire RNLI lifeboats will carry the wreaths to sea a short distance from the pier.

‘This is an especially poignant time of year for many people who have lost loved ones at sea but 2016 will be particularly remembered by all of us involved in rescue services around Ireland,’ commented Stephen Wynne, Lifeboat Operations Manager with Dun Laoghaire RNLI.

‘Caitriona symbolises the commitment we all share for helping others in need; she will not be forgotten.’

Local musician William Byrne will perform a ballad marking the 1895 tragedy while journalist Fergal Keane will read a newspaper account from that era followed by an ecumenical blessing. Dublin Fire Brigade piper Paul McNally will play a lament at the East Pier saluting station at the end of the ceremony that has been kindly facilitated by the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company.

One of the attendees will be Cormac Becton, great grandson of Edward Murphy, a volunteer lifeboat man who lost his life during the rescue of the Palme in 1895. Cormac said, ‘For many years as a young child Christmas Eve meant the nativity until I heard the story of my great Grandfather. Now when I hear winter gales I think of him and the brave lifeboat crew as they rowed out of the harbour. The site of the ceremony on Christmas Eve is so close to where they died it isn't hard to imagine the scene and the challenge they faced.’

Please be advised that due to forecasts of strong winds at the weekend contingency plans are in place to ensure the ceremony proceeds safely. This may mean the ceremony will be moved closer to the lifeboat station. Attendees will be advised with stewards in place.

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Note for editors:

On 24th December 1895 the number two lifeboat was wrecked while proceeding to the assistance of the SS Palme of Finland, the whole of her crew, 15 in number, drowned.

Their names were John Baker, John Bartley, Edward Crowe, Thomas Dunphy, William Dunphy, Francis McDonald, Edward Murphy, Patrick Power, James Ryan, Francis Saunders, George Saunders, Edward Shannon, Henry Underhill, Alexander Williams and Henry Williams. The lifeboat capsized when about 600 yards from the distressed vessel and, although every effort was made to render help to the lifeboat and to the Palme, nothing could be done. The number one lifeboat also put out with only a crew of nine and obtained six further volunteers from HMS Melampus. She also capsized under sail but fortunately all regained the lifeboat.

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RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact David Branigan Dun Laoghaire RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer Tel: 086 253 7782 email: branigandavid@gmail.com or Niamh Stephenson RNLI Public Relations Manager Tel: 087 1254 124 / 01 8900 460 email Niamh_Stephenson@rnli.org or Nuala McAloon RNLI Press Officer Tel: 087 6483547 Nuala_McAloon@rnli.org

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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