Articles, Maritime History, Vessels

Lifeboats in DúnLaoghaire

There have been lifeboats in Dublin Bay for more than 200 years. This is one of the oldest services in existence. The first lifeboat was located at Sandycove and run by the Dublin Ballast Board. In 1817 a lifeboat was located in Old Dunleary, before the present harbour was built.

In 1861 the RNLI took over control of the Lifeboat service and built a boathouse and slipway to house the lifeboat. This can still be seen beside the National Yacht Club at the top of the East pier. By 1890 there was a second lifeboat, originally kept on moorings, but later housed in a new boathouse beside the Carlisle pier.

In 1895 on Christmas Eve, a sailing ship the Palme, got into difficulties, the lifeboat was sent out, it capsized and all 15 of the crew were lost. There is a memorial by the harbour commemorating this tragedy, which lists the names of the men who died; all local people and all volunteers. This is probably the most traumatic event in the history of our local lifeboat service.

It was not until 1919 that the first Motor Lifeboat was delivered. There was no motor lifeboat available when the Leinster was torpedoed.

By 1963 the boats became too big to house in a boathouse and the DunLaoghaire Lifeboat was kept permanently on moorings.

In 1986 leisure boating, sailing, windsurfing, and other inshore water sports had become so popular that it was decided to add an inshore lifeboat to the fleet. Housed in the 1861 boathouse. This can give a faster response for simple accidents and enhance the RNLI’s ability to meet its primary aim “To save lives at Sea”

The New Inshore Lifeboat

can bee seen in the harbour.

The Loss of the Palme,

also known as: “The Kingston Lifeboat Tragedy”

Dunleary II

This is a model of the last Lifeboat to be stationed in Kingstown which relied solely on oars and sails for propulsion. It was in service from 1914 until 1919.

This model was made and presented by J.J. Carroll.


This device operates in exactly the same way as a mortar gun. The flare with a firing pin on the bottom was dropped into the chamber, the operator stepped smartly away as the flare rose rapidly from the “gun”. Its purpose was to send up a flare which was used to summon lifeboat crew for duty.

With the advent of mobile phones, the maroon became obsolete.