A community rocked by one of the worst trawler tragedies in recent times will host a novel fundraiser today as it continues to await news from the RNLI as to whether a lifeboat station, established in the wake of five deaths, will become a permanent fixture in the area.
Following the 2012 Tit Bonhomme tragedy in which five fishermen died, the RNLI decided to establish an inshore lifeboat station at Union Hall for a trial period of two years.
Locals in the West Cork village will discover this October if the inshore service, covering the greater Glandore Bay area, is to be retained following the initial probationary period.
The five fishermen died when the trawler sank at the entrance to the harbour in January of 2012.
Those who died included skipper Michael Hayes, 52, from Helvic Head; Fás trainee Kevin Kershaw, 21, from Dublin who had been living with his aunt in Clonakilty, and three Egyptian crew, Attia Shaban, 26, Saied Ali Eldin, 22, and Wael Mohamad, 35. The sole survivor was Wael’s brother, Abdo Mohamad.
Retired fisherman Bill Deasy, who received a marine ministerial letter of appreciation for meritorious service for his efforts during the tragedy, says fundraising is under way for a lifeboat station.
In a fundraising venture today, an agricultural engineering lecturer from the UK has travelled to Union Hall to undertake a challenge to rebuild an ageing Massey Ferguson tractor in 24 hours, with a little help from colleagues and friends.
The lecturer, Michael O’Sullivan, has a home in Union Hall where his father was born. He approached Union Hall RNLI some months ago with his fundraising idea and asked them if they could source a dilapidated tractor for the 24-hour-rebuild challenge.
The restoration effort will take place on the pier in Union Hall today. Parts for the project were donated by AGCO.
Mr Deasy said locals are hopeful of retaining the inshore lifeboat.
“There are positive sounds but we want to make sure that we have the funds. We have been on two years probation with the lifeboat and we will find out in October whether it is permanent.
“We have sold tickets and there will be a raffle for the tractor event.”
He added: “The tractor will also be taken to the National Ploughing Championships this year.”
A team of 16 volunteers operate and make-up the lifeboat crew.
They include a civil engineer, an electrician, a carpenter, a fisherman, a fireman, and a garda.
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