Galway RNLI tribute to Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain
In recognition of the long career of RNLI Coxswain John O’Donnell and the close relationship with the Aran Islands RNLI, the Galway RNLI crew presented a framed picture of the lifeboats from both stations to John last week to mark his retirement.
Mike Swan, Galway RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, who made the presentation said: ‘The ties between the Galway and Aran Islands lifeboat stations go right back to the late 90s when the Galway station was first operational. At that time some of the Aran RNLI crew were studying in Galway and living in the city during the week and as it wasn’t always possible for them to get back to Aran for their training exercises, they joined our crew for training.
‘I’ve known John since before he joined the RNLI in 2003 and then when he became the Coxswain for the Aran Islands lifeboat and I took up the role of Lifeboat Operations Manager for Galway, our roles meant that over the years we were at meetings together with the Coast Guard and other emergency services, along with events and training at the RNLI bases in Dublin and Poole, England.
‘The crews at both lifeboat stations have been on many joint rescues over the years. Although there is an imaginary line from Spiddal in Galway to Black Head in County Clare that divides the area of Galway Bay that each station is responsible for, in reality, when there is a long rescue that requires all available resources or a search for a missing boat that has no last known location, the boundary becomes irrelevant and we work together as one crew.
‘There have been many difficult nights on the water and challenging situations but when we look back on the 21 years that John was involved in the Aran Islands lifeboat, it is the friendships and camaraderie that we will remember.
‘I was delighted to present a photo of our two lifeboats to John on behalf of the entire crew in Galway. In the photo you can see the Aran Islands all-weather lifeboat David Kirkaldy' out on the bay with the Galway inshore lifeboat, Binny in the foreground.
‘We wish John every happiness on his retirement from the RNLI and even though he will be as busy as ever, he won’t have to think about the pager going off at all hours any more.’
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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