THE lives of 65 Irish lifeboat volunteers who died trying to save the lives of others were remembered in a ceremony in Britain yesterday.
Flags at RNLI lifeboat stations were lowered across the country yesterday as a memorial, dedicated to those who lost their lives while at sea, was unveiled outside the Lifeboat college in Dorset.
Of the 778 people commemorated on the RNLI memorial, 65 are from Irish lifeboat stations.
Relatives, friends and RNLI staff attended the ceremony.
The sculpture was unveiled by the Duke of Kent while the RNLI divisional inspector for Ireland, Martyn Smith, and fundraising and communications manager Anna Classon also attended the event.
At 12.20pm a one-minute silence was held with RNLI lifeboat crews and supporters throughout Ireland and Britain observing the silence.
As an additional mark of respect, RNLI lifeboat stations and offices flew the RNLI flag at half-mast.
Former Dún Laoghaire lifeboat volunteer Billy Scully attended the ceremony and read out the list of Irish lifeboat stations that have lost people.
“Every Christmas Eve in Dún Laoghaire we remember our lost lifeboat crew, while at the same time acknowledging everyone who has been lost at sea over the years. It is fitting that the memorial has been erected outside the lifeboat college where RNLI crew members go to train and meet with other lifeboat volunteers across Ireland and Britain.”
Andrew Freemantle, chief executive of the RNLI, said: “The RNLI memorial is a tribute to the many hundreds of people who have given their lives selflessly to save others over the last two hundred years and it will ensure that the sacrifices made by our volunteers, and others, while saving lives at sea are never forgotten.”
The memorial sculpture of a person in a boat saving another from the water is inscribed with the family motto of the RNLI’s founder, Sir William Hillary: “With courage, nothing is impossible.”
* Members of the public who wish to pay their respects may add a tribute to the RNLI online book of commemorate at www.rnli.ie/commemorate. A full list of the names on the memorial is also there.
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