Christmas Eve lifeboat tragedy remembered by Dun Laoghaire RNLI at ceremony

Lifeboats News Release

At noon this Christmas Eve (Saturday 24 December) at the end of the East Pier in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew will gather to lay wreaths at sea and remember 15 of their lifeboat colleagues who were lost while in service in 1895.

Photo from ceremony held in 2021

RNLI/Niamh Stephenson

Photo from ceremony held in 2021

The annual ceremony, which has become a Christmas Eve tradition for the station, also remembers all those who have drowned around our coasts, in rivers, inland waters and abroad.

The ceremony will see lifeboat crew joined by members of the Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard and Civil Defence, who will form an honour guard. Both Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s inshore and all-weather lifeboat will launch, and the crew will lay wreaths off the east pier in view of the public. This year broadcaster, PJ Gallagher, will read an account of the disaster, published at the time of the tragedy.

Joe O’Donnell of ‘Wedding Pipers’ will play a lament from the Lighthouse Battery and musician, William Byrne, will perform the ‘Ballad of the Palme.’

On 24 December 1895 the 'Civil Service No. 1' Dun Laoghaire lifeboat was wrecked while proceeding to the assistance of the SS Palme of Finland. The entire crew, 15 in total, were drowned. The lifeboat capsized 600 yards from the distressed vessel and, although every effort was made to send help to the lifeboat and to the Palme, nothing could be done.

The second Dun Laoghaire lifeboat 'Hannah Pickard' also launched but it too capsized under sail, fortunately all crew returned safely. The Captain, his wife, child and 17 crew were eventually rescued on the 26th December by the SS Tearaght.

The short ceremony takes place under the lighthouse at the end of the East Pier. It includes an ecumenical blessing, a reading from a news article published at the time and music.

Commenting on the event Dun Laoghaire RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Ed Totterdell said, ‘The loss of fifteen lifeboat volunteers devastated the local community at the time but the RNLI here kept going. Volunteer lifeboat crew came forward then, as they still do, to help those in trouble at sea and on inland waters. We hold this ceremony to honour their memory but also to remember all those we have lost to drowning.’

‘Our lifeboat crew is on call this Christmas as they are every day of the year, and we hope everyone has a safe and peaceful time. We are also delighted to welcome back PJ Gallagher, who was a valued member of our crew when he lived in Dun Laoghaire and who remains a great friend of the lifeboat service in Ireland. People are very welcome to come and join us at the end of the East Pier, it’s our Christmas tradition and one that is very special to us.’

Ends

Note for Editor:

Date: 12 Noon, Christmas Eve, 24th December 2022

Event: RNLI Christmas Eve Ceremony

Location: End of the East Pier, Dun Laoghaire, meet at Dun Laoghaire lifeboat station at 11.15am

Directions: Pass DART station coming from Dublin, first left-hand turn after traffic lights.

Additional information: Please allow time to reach the lighthouse for the ceremony that begins at midday.

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.

RNLI/Dun Laoghaire

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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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