Aran Islands RNLI officially opens new Visitor Experience and lifeboat shop
Aran Islands RNLI officially opened their new shop and Visitor Experience on Inis Mór this weekend, raising vital funds for the charity that saves lives at sea and awareness of the work of the lifeboat crew serving the islands.
The sun came out for the grand opening, which took place on Saturday (1 October). The honour of cutting the ribbon fell to mother and daughter, Margaret Gill and Lena O’Connell. Both RNLI volunteers, Margaret is Treasurer of the Aran Islands fundraising branch with almost 40 years of service to the charity, while Lena is the station Lifeboat Press Officer and a fundraiser.
The new shop is located next to the Aran Islands lifeboat station at Kilronan Pier while the Visitor Experience is inside the boathall. The shop offers a wide range of RNLI branded goods, including clothing and accessories, toys and stationery. It is expected to open seven days a week during the tourist season from Easter through to Autumn and will coincide with the ferry timings to and from the island.
The Visitor Experience makes wonderful use of the large number of images and information about the station’s lifeboats, including memorable milestones, awards and rescue stories. The opening brought out a group of locals and visitors, with music provided by well-known musician Locko Cullen and a delicious buffet lunch laid on by Teach Nan Phaidí.
Aran Islands RNLI station mechanic Máirtín Eoin Coyne was MC for the event and, welcoming people to the short ceremony, was Lifeboat Operations Manager, Michael T. Hernon, who thanked the dedicated volunteers who have supported the lifeboat station and fundraising for nearly a century. RNLI Regional Engagement Manager Daniel Curran acknowledged the huge amount of people who had made the opening possible.
RNLI Head of Region, Anna Classon, whose own grandfather was a member of the Garda Síochána stationed on the island, and who made Inis Mór a home for her mother and uncles for many years, gave her speech in Irish and paid tribute to the lifeboat and island communities who support the RNLI in their lifesaving work.
Anna said, ‘This community, with the support of the RNLI, has been serving those in trouble on the sea for many years. It has a been a selfless tradition, with a history of bravery, volunteering, and kindness to strangers. Thank you for joining the RNLI in the bravest of endeavours, to put others before yourselves, in whatever role you play. I congratulate all involved with this lovely new shop and visitor experience and hope you welcome many people across the threshold in the years to come.’
After conducting the official ribbon cutting with her daughter Lena, Aran Islands RNLI Treasurer Margaret Gill said, ‘We are so thrilled to have our new shop and visitor experience on Inis Mór. There is an incredible history of lifeboating and lifesaving on this island and a group of committed volunteers that support it. There are tales of rescues and brave deeds going back generations and it’s lovely to have somewhere for visitors and locals to take a minute, look around the exhibits, and learn a bit about our history. They can also visit our shop when they have finished and buy a little memento of their trip to the island or an early Christmas card. As a charity the RNLI relies on the generosity of the pubic and we are so grateful for that ongoing support.’
RNLI media contacts
For more information, please contact Niamh Stephenson, RNLI Regional Media Manager on 087 1254 124 or [email protected] or Nuala McAloon, RNLI Regional Media Officer on 087 648 3547 or 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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