President names new Kilmore Quay lifeboat

THE BLUE and red flags of the RNLI fluttered proudly in celebration as President Mary McAleese officially named a new €3 million lifeboat in Kilmore Quay.

The President performed the champagne-smashing ceremony by flicking a switch a safe distance from the first Tamar class RNLI lifeboat to be put into service in Ireland.

The Killarney, which is the most modern and technically advanced lifeboat in the RNLI fleet, was at the centre of a ceremony attended by a large gathering of guests who assembled under a canopy in the harbour.

In an amazing gesture of generosity, the lifeboat was funded by a legacy from Mrs Mary Weeks of Surrey in England, who passed away in 2006. Mrs Weeks (née Distin) met her husband on a cruise off the west coast of Scotland on a boat named Killarney.

She had a strong connection to the RNLI, being a relation of both the coxwain of Salcombe lifeboat Samuel Distin and crew member Albert Distin, who lost their lives in the Salcombe lifeboat disaster of 1916.

Adding poignancy to the proceedings, her niece Betty Hull, great niece Anne Piggford and great nephew David Hull were special guests at the ceremony in Kilmore Quay and formally handed the lifeboat into the care of the RNLI.

Addressing the attendance, President McAleese said: 'Everything that is good about human nature is gathered on this day. All the good qualities, all the things that people are capable of doing out of goodness, generosity, love, kindness, care, concern; all gather around the naming of this boat this day.'

'It comes to us by way of gift, it has been blessed and the gift itself is a blessing. A blessing not just to those that take the boat into their ownership this day but to the people who someday will need its blessing and need its gift,' said President McAleese.

The President said the RNLI had a proud history of saving lives for almost 200 years. Tens and thousands of people had called on the lifeboat, called on the volunteer crews and without knowing it, called on the generosity of people like Mary Weeks who would never live to see the boat but would give it as an act of generosity to future people, complete strangers she would never know.

Seán Radford, lifeboat operations manager in Kilmore Quay, said the new lifeboat had already been called out 13 times in emergency situations.

'At Kilmore Quay, with a long and proud lifeboat tradition dating back to 1847, we pride ourselves on being ready to answer the call.' he said. ' The crew in Kilmore Quay provide an exceptional service to their community and have been doing so for 164 years since our first lifeboat.'

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