Sunday 17 December 2017

Memorial ceremony will have added significance

By David Tucker

THIS year's Rosslare Burrow Lifeboat Memorial ceremony, which is due to take place at 3 p.m. on Sunday, will have a special significance as it will include the unveiling of the refurbishment of the monument site and the completion of a stone replica of the James Stevens Lifeboat.

One of the wreaths will be laid by Cllr Ger Carthy, a son of the late Cllr Leo Carthy who assisted the monument committee over many years in its work as well as officiating at many of the annual wreath layings.

A wreath will also be laid on behalf of the Norwegian government by Solve Steinhoven, Charges d'Affaires at the Norwegian Embassy, in memory of the heroic rescue of the crew of the Norwegian schooner 'Mexico'.

The ceremony commemorates the participation of the Wexford Lifeboat 'James Stevens No 15' and the steam tug 'Wexford', in the rescue of the schooner's crew on the Keeragh Rocks in February, 1914.

The 'James Stevens' was based at the then-Rosslare Fort Lifeboat station and was commanded by Coxswain Edward Wickham. The tug was commanded by Captain Laurence Busher.

The first boat to arrive at the 'Mexico' wreck was the Fethard Lifeboat 'Helen Blake'.

She was soon driven onto the rocks and was tragically lost, along with her Coxswain Chistopher Bird and eight members of her total crew of 14 men.

During the subsequent rescue of the survivors of the 'Mexico' crew and the Fethard lifeboatmen, two members of the 'James Stevens' crew, bowman Bill Duggan, and James Wickham, 2nd Cox, manned a small punt in the raging seas to save the 10 men stranded on the rocks, despite the punt being seriously holed by striking the rocks.

For this heroic act they were decorated by the RNLI and the King of Norway along with many other awards.

They were also presented with All Ireland medals by the GAA to mark their bravery and remain to this day the only persons to receive such an honour outside of the field of play.

In 1982, a local Rosslare And District voluntary committee erected a monument in Rosslare Burrow to mark this historic event and a commemoration ceremony has been held there annually ever since.

The refurbishment of the monument site was funded and completed by Wexford County Council, with the replica designed and completed by Billy Doyle, Burrow Lifeboat Memorial chair and funded by the committee through local contributions.

This year's ceremony will be followed by light refreshments in Redmond's Bay Lounge, Rosslare to which all are invited.

Wexford People

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