Castletownbere RNLI crew member looking forward to first Christmas on call

Lifeboats News Release

New crew member Dion Murphy Kelly is looking forward to his first Christmas on call at Castletownbere RNLI since getting his pager in March.


Dion Murphy Kelly

As the charity launches its Christmas appeal asking for help to continue its lifesaving work at sea, Dion will be among the many lifeboat crew members in west Cork preparing to drop their festive plans and go to the aid of someone in need if their pager sounds over the Christmas period.

Like hundreds of volunteers around Ireland, he has signed up to save every one from drowning – it has been the charity’s mission since 1824. Indeed, this Christmas many will leave their loved ones behind to answer the call, each time hoping to reunite another family, and see those in trouble at sea safely returned.

During the festive period from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day over the last five years from 2017-2021, RNLI lifeboats in the Irish region launched 55 times and brought 43 people to safety.

Last year, lifeboats launched a total of 1,078 times across the island with volunteer crews bringing 1,485 people to safety, 21 of whom were lives saved. In west Cork, lifeboats at Castletownbere, Baltimore, Union Hall and Courtmacsherry launched 64 times bringing 95 people to safety.

But these rescues would not be possible without donations from the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training and equipment needed by lifeboat crews all year round.

Dion was inspired to join the RNLI by his family’s connection to the sea: My family is involved in fishing, and we have lost family members to the sea over the years. I am not involved in fishing myself, but I wanted to be involved and give back in a different way. I am the first member of my family to join a lifeboat crew.’

An apprentice ESB technician by day, Dion joined the crew in Castletownbere just before the pandemic but due to restrictions was only able to complete his training and assessments earlier this year.

‘I love it and the lads have been very good to be me, nothing is a bother when it comes to helping me. I have been on two call outs so far, one to a help a couple on a troubled yacht that got hit by a change in the weather and the other was in response to a medevac, but we were stood down. The adrenalin does kick in when the pager goes off and it is all systems go and then it is just about staying focussed. It is rewarding, I remember the look on the couple’s faces that we rescued on the yacht, and they were so thankful to be dry and in the lifeboat station. There is great satisfaction in being able to help people.’

While it will be his first Christmas on call this year, Dion will relish the opportunity to help if the call comes: ‘Even at Christmas, our lifesavers are ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice and rush to the aid of someone in trouble on the water. At this time of year, the weather is at its worst and lives are on the line. We know that every time our crews go out, they hope for a good outcome, but sadly this sometimes isn’t the case.

‘There’s no feeling quite like bringing someone home safe to their families – especially at Christmas. As lifeboat crew we couldn’t rescue people without kind donations from the public which fund the kit, training and equipment we need to save others and get home safely to our families.’

To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal visit:


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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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.