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Clogherhead RNLI announce four new lifeboat roles as the lifesaving charity seeks support to save every one this Christmas

Lifeboats News Release

Clogherhead RNLI have appointed four people to new lifesaving roles as this Christmas the station stands ready to launch at a moment’s notice to save lives at sea.

Four members of RNLI Clogherhead crew in front of the Shannon class lifeboat

Sean Flanagan and Denis Levins have been passed out as lifeboat Coxswains while Raymond Butterly has joined the station to become shore crew for launching the station’s impressive Shannon class lifeboat. Barry Sharkey has also been appointed as the new full-time mechanic for the station, taking over from Padraig Rath. 

The four men helped the charity launch its Christmas appeal at the Louth based lifeboat station and are calling on the public to support the RNLI’s lifesaving work this Christmas, as they remain on call and ready to launch.

With over 1,500 lifeboat volunteers in Ireland, each RNLI crew member signs up to save every one from drowning – the charity’s mission since 1824. This Christmas many will leave loved ones behind to answer the call, each time hoping to reunite another family, and see those in trouble at sea safely returned. 

Newly appointed Coxswain Sean Flanagan is 15 years on the lifeboat crew and has served as a Coxswain on the station’s previous lifeboat. Working at Dublin Port as a pilot boat Coxswain he is no stranger to the sea and the dangers that people can face when they venture out on it. Sean said, ‘I work at sea, and I want to use my knowledge and training to help those who may get into difficulty.  With the RNLI we have the best training and kit, all paid for by voluntary donations. We are a community-based organisation, and we want to do everything we can to help save lives at sea.’

The second newly appointed Coxswain is Denis Levins. Denis sailed the world in the merchant navy and is currently employed as a second officer with P&O ferries. Denis has a strong history with the RNLI, with his father Patrick previously holding the role of station mechanic and his mother earning a gold badge for her volunteer work in fundraising for the lifeboats. Father and son went on callouts together before his father retired. Commenting on the Christmas appeal Dennis said, ‘The pager we wear for callouts is an important piece of kit. I've come home from sea and have had the pager go off minutes after I have come through the door, you just get up and go, it’s that simple. We could not do what we do without the support and generosity of the public.’

Clogherhead RNLI doesn’t just rely on lifeboat crew, there are a range of volunteer roles that must be filled to support the work that happens at sea. One such role requires skilled operators to manoeuvre the million-euro lifeboat out to sea and recover it on return.  The drivers operate the SLARS kit, which stands for Shannon Launch and Recovery System, a unique type of tractor that brings the lifeboat out to sea and safety recovers it after the shout. Raymond is new to the lifeboat station, but he is delighted to have volunteered during the pandemic. He added, ‘I’m a mechanic in Togher and come from a strong farming background. I’ve never operated a tractor like the station one, but I’ve loved getting trained up on it. There are a lot of moves involved as you steer it out of the station and down the beach but it’s an important piece of the lifeboat launch and recovery operation. In this volunteer role, the training and support I receive is essential to getting the lifeboat to sea. 

Finally, Clogherhead RNLI have appointed a new full-time mechanic. Barry Sharkey will officially take up the role in March on Padraig’s retirement and until then he will work alongside the highly respected station mechanic, Padraig Rath, to learn the ropes.  It’s a responsibility he does not wear lightly as his grandfather was lifeboat crew and his father and brother are Coxswains on the lifeboat too. The family is a well-known fishing family and Barry is proud to keep the Sharkey name going within the RNLI. Barry commented, ‘I’m so grateful for the support we receive from the community. I’ve been a volunteer lifeboat crewmember since 2015 and I’m ready now to step into the full-time mechanic’s position.  When I first joined and saw a rescue with a trawler crew that had narrowly escaped tragedy, I’ve known this is what I wanted to do. You can’t be complacent when you are dealing with the type of kit and equipment here and my responsibility will be to make sure that lifeboat does her job out there on any given day, just has Padraig did during his time.’ 

‘We know that every time our crews go out, they hope for a good outcome, but sadly this sometimes isn’t the case. Through people supporting this year’s Christmas appeal, with their help we can get so much closer to our goal of saving every one.’ 

To donate to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal, visit:

RNLI media contacts 

For more information please contact Niamh Stephenson, RNLI Regional Media Manager Tel: 00353 87 1254 124 email: [email protected] or Nuala McAloon, RNLI Regional Media Officer Tel: 00353 87 648 3547 email: [email protected]


Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.