The Schull Community Inshore Rescue Service was inaugurated yesterday and is now fully-operational with a 15-strong, fully-trained crew.
Tim O’Connor, secretary of the voluntary organisation, said that, thanks to the fundraising efforts of hundreds of locals, they had been able to purchase a boathouse and a fully-equipped 6.5 metre-long rib.
Mr O’Connor said a number of tragedies in the area had prompted the setting up of the service.
In addition, he said the need was also highlighted by the fact that harbour traffic had tripled in the past 10 years in the small port which has year-round fishing and leisure activities.
“We will normally cover an area from Ballydehob over to Gunpoint but, if called by the RNLI to assist in an emergency, we will have the range to cover as far as Cape Clear, Goleen and Crookhaven,” Mr O’Connor said.
The inshore rescue service has been approved by Irish Water Safety and the Irish Coastguard.
“The rib is equipped with all the latest telecommunications technology, first aid and recovery equipment. The rib is also self-righting,” he said.
The community has fundraised for the past three years.
“The total cost will be €300,000 and to pay off the debt and help with running costs we have 200 signed up subscribers who will each contribute €75 a year,” Mr O’Connor said.
“We want to sincerely thank everybody who has contributed. We also received some funding from the Community Foundation of Ireland,” he added.