Articles, Maritime History, Vessels

Lifeboats in Dublin Bay

Lifeboats in Dublin Bay
by John de Courcy Ireland.

RNLI Dun Laoghaire, ISBN 0 9533540 0 8.

This fine book is dedicated to the 23 lifeboat-men who lost their lives as a result of service since the first lifeboat was established in Dublin Bay in 1803. It is written by the Honorary Research Officer of this Institute, who for 26 years was Honorary Secretary of Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat Station. During that time he supervised 271 launchings ‘in anger’ as well as numerous training exercises. In Section Two he details the onerous tasks involved in managing a lifeboat station. The main Section tells of the deeds of the fearless lifeboat-men over two centuries, like Kildare born William Hutchison, first harbour master of Dun Laoghaire (then Kingstown) who also acted as Coxswain of the lifeboat. Over his long years of service he won the RNLI Gold and Silver medals for saving lives at sea. Yet, as Dr. Ireland remarks “it is a shame that the municipal authorities have never put up a plaque let alone named a building, square or street in honour of this outstanding mariner”.

In more recent times we read of mechanic, Charlie Blackmore, who helped save 178 lives during his 248, call outs’, twenty-six of which were in gale or storm force conditions, six in dense fog. One feels humbled reading the dry station reports from the days before the motor lifeboats when crews rowed and sailed towards vessels in distress “hanging onto the heavy oars with clumsy and uncomfortable lifejackets on.” Such were the men who manned the “Lifeboats of Dublin Bay”, which it must be recalled, in the early 19th century included boats at Bullock, Poolbeg, Sandycove, Clontarf and Sutton.

Frank Forde.