Clifden RNLI’s new inshore D class lifeboat named Celia Mary
At a special naming ceremony and service of dedication held today (Saturday 21 October), Clifden RNLI officially named its new D class lifeboat, Celia Mary, in the Connemara coastal town.
The honour of handing over the lifeboat and officially naming her went to the donor Peter Ross, husband of the late Celia. He was accompanied at the ceremony which was held at the Station House Hotel, by his family, and by Celia’s best friend, Rea Hollis, who has made a generous donation towards the running costs of Clifden Lifeboat Station.
Celia who was from East Sussex but was of Irish descent died three years ago shortly after her 79th birthday. She had always wanted to fund a lifeboat.
A much loved wife and mother of five children, Celia spent many years living self-sufficiently and keeping cows and sheep. She had a great sense of humour and her kitchen was the focal point of her village. An idyllic life came to an end when rheumatoid arthritis took hold but despite suffering from subsequent ill health, this did not stop her from becoming a respected antiques dealer until what has been described as her indomitable spirit, succumbed and she passed away.
During the ceremony, Niamh McCutcheon, member of the Irish Council of the RNLI, accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the charity, from Peter Ross, before handing her over into the care of Clifden Lifeboat Station.
During her address, she praised the efforts of all those who supported the work of the station: ‘In 2017, Clifden RNLI has been requested to respond to 17 call outs, with a total of 26 launches, bringing 18 people to safety between the three different lifeboats on station here. You cannot put a price on the impact that has on people’s lives, whether they are volunteers or casualties.
‘Our lifesavers could not have answered those calls for help without the support they receive from fellow volunteers on the shore: the fundraisers, the launch crew and the station management. In fact the whole of the RNLI depends on those people who represent our charity in the community.’
Lifeboat Operations Manager John Brittain accepted the lifeboat on behalf of Clifden RNLI ahead of Celia Mary being blessed in a service of dedication led by Father James Ronayne and the Very Reverend Stan Evans. The lifeboat was then officially named by Peter.
John Brittain said the event was a special occasion for the lifeboat station adding that the crew were most grateful to Peter for his generous gift in memory of his wife which had funded this lifeboat, Celia Mary.
‘Celia always wanted a lifeboat, and now she has one in Clifden,’ he said. ‘While her lifeboat may be a little far from her family, we have been told by her loved ones, that Celia, who was of Irish descent, would have revelled in the beauty of Galway, Connemara and the Atlantic coast.’
On accepting the lifeboat, he paid tribute to the donor: ‘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 to sea, we’ll have peace of mind because this lifeboat will help to keep them safe, as they save others. So, on behalf of all the station volunteers, I would like to thank Peter and his family. Your generosity has given Clifden a lifesaver.’
The D class Celia Mary replaces the Grainne Uaile which served Clifden RNLI for the last 10 years. During that time, the lifeboat launched 62 times bringing 20 people to safety.
Originally introduced in 1963, the D class has evolved into a highly capable modern lifeboat. It is the workhorse of the RNLI’s fleet and is ideal for working close inshore, near rocks or in shallow water in moderate conditions. It can be righted by the crew if it capsizes and is also part of the RNLI flood rescue team’s fleet of boats.
She comes into her own for searches and rescues in the surf, shallow water and confined locations - often close to cliffs, among rocks and even inside caves.
The RNLI established a lifeboat station in Clifden in early 1988 when a C class lifeboat was put on service for one season’s evaluation. The following year Clifden RNLI became fully operational as a summer season only lifeboat station.
In 1992 part of a building used for housing the lifeboat was demolished and a new purpose built building was constructed in order to provide adequate facilities for the lifeboat and crew. As well as providing an area for the C class lifeboat and launching vehicle, it included a workshop and crew facilities.
In 1997, an Atlantic 21 lifeboat was placed on service and a new boathouse for the lifeboat and a tractor was completed in August 1998.
A new D class lifeboat was placed on service in May 1998.
A new Atlantic 75 B class lifeboat was placed on service in 1999 where it remained stationed until June when it was replaced by the Atlantic 85.
A crowd of well wishers turned up to see the lifeboat officially named with a bottle of champagne poured over the side of the boat before it launched at the end of the ceremony.
Among the guests on the platform party were Pearse Hyland, chair of the Lifeboat Management Group, who welcomed guests and opened proceedings, Peter Ross, husband of Celia who handed over and named the lifeboat, Niamh McCutcheon, member of the RNLI Council of Ireland who accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the RNLI and handed it over into the care of Clifden Lifeboat Station, John Brittain, Clifden RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, Celia’s best friend Rea Hollis who did a reading, and inshore lifeboat mechanic Andy Bell who gave a vote of thanks and closed proceedings.
RNLI media contacts
For more information please telephone Nuala McAloon RNLI Regional Media Officer Ireland on 00353876483547 or email Nuala_McAloon@rnli.org.uk or Niamh Stephenson RNLI Regional Media Manager Ireland on 00353871254124 or Niamh_Stephenson@rnli.org.uk
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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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland