Renowned Mary Stanford lifeboat back at spiritual home

The Mary Stanford lifeboat on arrival in Ballycotton, transported by Noel and Hazel Hennessy of Ballycotton Transport. Pic: Denis Minihane

The first lifeboat to receive an award for bravery for its role in one of Ireland’s most daring sea rescues has been returned to its spiritual home.

The Mary Stanford, saved earlier this year from being scuttled, has been installed on a scenic display plinth overlooking Ballycotton Bay in East Cork, from where she sailed into history almost a century ago.

The complex operation to transport the almost 30-tonne vessel from a warehouse in Midleton to the fishing village’s famous cliff walk passed off without a hitch over the weekend.

A meeting is now due to take place tomorrow to plan the restoration of the vessel on site over the coming months.

Stephen Belton, a member of the Save the Mary Stanford Committee, said everybody was delighted to finally have her back home where she belongs.

“This was one of the biggest things to ever happen in Ballycotton,” he said. “We got amazing co-operation from everybody involved.

“We would like to thank Noel Hennessy of Ballycotton Transport who did a fantastic job transporting her along the narrow winding roads, and East Cork Crane Hire, who had responsibility for placing her on the permanent display plinth.

“We are all really excited about the next phase of this project, with work already under way to plan the restoration.”

The Barnett-class vessel was Ballycotton’s lifeboat from 1930 to 1959 and was called out on 41 ‘shouts’, saving 122 lives.

The Daunt Lightship rescue on February 11, 1936, during which she and her crew saved seven lives, was her most famous mission.

The lifeboat crew had been away for 79 hours, and had only three hours of sleep during the 63-hour rescue.

A gold bravery medal was awarded to coxswain Patsy Sliney; silver medals to second coxswain John Lane Walsh and motor mechanic Thomas Sliney; and bronze medals to crew members Michael Coffey Walsh, John Shea Sliney, William Sliney, and Thomas Walsh.

Despite its illustrious past, the vessel was left to languish at a rarely used quay in Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock.

Proud members of the Save the Mary Stanford Committee, which includes descendants of that brave crew, watched on Saturday as she finally made her way home.

The committee hopes the project, as well as honouring the memory of the crew and the vessel, will also make the vessel an added attraction in Ballycotton.

Meanwhile, a radio documentary tracing the history of Youghal RNLI as it celebrates its 175th anniversary will air on CRY 104FM at 7pm this evening

Entitled Saving Lives At Sea, the programme will include first-person recollections of one of the station’s most dramatic rescues on August 1, 1984, and feature interviews with the large number of volunteers both past and present from Youghal RNLI.

Youghal’s lifeboats have been launched on over 340 occasions, saving more than 200 lives.


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