One of Ireland’s busiest lifeboat crews have paid tribute to their ‘godmother’ who has ensured, from beyond the grave, that they can continue to save lives at sea.
Members of the Kinsale RNLI lifeboat station in Cork have taken delivery of a new, faster and more advanced lifeboat that can carry more crew and operate more effectively in poor visibility.
They have spent the last two days putting the new Atlantic 85 vessel through her paces, under the guidance of RNLI assessors, in the hope of her being fully operational by the end of the week.
They will continue to respond to emergency calls during the training period using the original Kinsale lifeboat — the Atlantic 75-class Miss Sally Anne Baggy, which has been involved in several high-profile incidents over the course of her 15-years of service.
She and her crew played a crucial role in the rescue of 30 young people from the training ship Astrid which ran aground on the Cork coast in 2013, and in the rescue of three fishermen as their trawler, Seán Anthony, sank in 2016.
The new boat is named Miss Sally Anne Baggy II – Never Fear, Baggy’s Here, in honour of Sally Anne Odell, a lifelong supporter of the RNLI who was known to the crew as ‘The Godmother’.
Ms Odell paid for the original Kinsale lifeboat and RNLI station and she remained in close contact with the crew until her death on November 27 last, aged 81.
But she made provision in her will for the new boat and associated running costs for the duration of its working life.
Kinsale Lifeboat operations manager, Kevin Gould, said they are sorry to say goodbye to the original Miss Sally Anne Baggy, describing her as a great lifeboat that brought many people to safety during her service:
The vessel will be officially named at a ceremony at the lifeboat station in a few weeks. The design allows room for four crew members and more kit than the Atlantic 75, which only had room for three crew members.
She is powered by two 115 horsepower engines, giving a greater top speed of 35 knots. Added radar allows the crew to operate more effectively in poor visibility and there is also VHF direction-finding equipment.
The vessel also carries a full suite of communication and electronic navigation aids, as well as a searchlight, night-vision equipment and flares for night-time operations.
The RNLI is a charity which relies on voluntary contributions and legacies.
Meanwhile, a massive fundraiser for Union Hall RNLI takes place this weekend, which includes a Superstars-style event on Sunday, featuring Rob and Marian Heffernan, DJ Carey, Noel O’Leary, Áine Sheehan and Denis Fogarty.