Naming the new Dunmore East Lifeboat

Although Sunday 26th June dawned wet and breezy, as the morning wore on the cloud started to lift and by early afternoon it was a beautiful sunny summer day, but with a strong SW breeze. As Deena and I drove towards Dunmore East Geoff Harris broadcast from the quayside on WLR FM, whetting the appetite for what was going to be a wonderful, and historic afternoon. You see, at least for me anyway, this will almost certainly be the last naming ceremony I will ever witness. The new lifeboat has a 50 year lifespan, so the likelihood of me being around for the next event is highly doubtful. Perhaps that is why I enjoyed the day so much.

Dunmore East RNLI officially named their all-weather Shannon class lifeboat, William and Agnes Wray. The Shannon replaced the station’s Trent class lifeboat last September (the new boat arrived on Sunday 26th September and quickly settled in) which was on service in Dunmore East since 1996. During those 25 years, Elizabeth and Ronald launched 412 times, bringing 821 people to safety, 20 of whom were lives saved.

The Shannon class lifeboat is the first modern all-weather lifeboat to be propelled by waterjets instead of traditional propellers, making it the most agile and manoeuvrable all-weather lifeboat in the RNLI’s fleet. The naming of the class of lifeboat follows a tradition of naming lifeboats after rivers. When the Shannon was introduced to the RNLI fleet, it became the first time an Irish river was chosen, and it was done so to reflect the commitment and dedication of Irish lifeboat crew for generations. And as you probably already know, the lifeboats have operated from Dunmore since the Henry Dodd arrived in 1884.

What follows is a recap of our day with photos and video. Hopefully those who could not be there will get a sense of the occasion, including our good pals Andrew Lloyd and Leoni Baldwin who were unable to attend on the day.

Hooks and Crookes getting the afternoon off to a rousing start
Karen Harris Deputy Launching Authority accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the station in a very good address – she mentioned how it was her job to page the crew and what a relief it was to her to know that they have such a fine safe boat to go out it. Seated on the right is Eddy Stewart-Liberty, Chair of the Lifeboat Management Group who did a terrifc job MC-ing the afternoon
The Lifeboat was blessed in a service of dedication led by Father Brian Power (rt) and the Reverend Bruce Hayes.
A poem by the late John Bulligan Power was read followed by the students of Realt an Mara and the sea scouts accompanied by Hooks and Crookes singing the Lifeboat song – Home from the Sea with the permission of Phil Coulter who wrote to say he was sorry he could not attend in person
The lifeboat was then officially named the William and Anges Wray by Brendan Dunne. Brendan is a long term supporter of the blog, but an even longer term volunteer with the lifeboat. In over 37 years of service this is the third all-weather lifeboat that Brendan has served on. He was also crew on the Waveney class, St Patrick and the Trent class Elizabeth and Ronald. Photo courtesy of Liam Ryan
Our regular guest blogger and author of Dauntless Courage, David Carroll delivered a vote of thanks
William and Anges Wray on display following the ceremony with two bulk carriers at anchor, LMZ Vega to the left and Interlink Quality further off.
R117 joins the party!
A real sense of the maneuverability and sea quality of the vessel
It was a day for all, including some lifeboat legends such as Fergus Wickham of Rosslare and John Walsh. Photo courtesy of Liam Ryan
 Nadia Blanchfield and Walter Foley of Fethard RNLI with Patrick Browne. Photo courtesy of Liam Ryan. Had a great chat with Walter back at the station house, I’d get several blogs out of it if he’s let me print it…at least I have Nadia as a witness
Deena lines up patiently – we were utterly thrilled to get aboard
Myself and Michael Farrell with Brendan Dunne, proudly show us aboard the lifeboat. Thanks to Deena for the photo
Peter generously gives us a lot of his valuable time for a run-through of the controls that are available at each seat aboard. Incredible technology but with so much back up including manual controls. And then kindly shows us the rest of the vessel. Thanks to Deena for this photo too
Over to the station house then, where the history of the station is on show on every wall, for example, this service record board. Photo courtesy of Michael Farrell
Later we have a visit to the lifeboat station for more chats including some of the visiting stations of Union Hall and Fethard On Sea. As part of the afternoon, Brendan Dunne gave a presentation to Stephanie Currie in recognition of 32 years of service to the fundraising committee. He also acknowledged Margaret, Kathleen, Shirley, Anne and Susan from the fundraising committee who received their Long Service Awards at an event held in the Radisson Blu Hotel St.Helens, Dublin on Saturday.
David and Brendan phot courtesy of Michael Farrell
From the official booklet on the day – thanks to my cousin Christine for the copy

A wonderful day. Here’s wishing the vessel and crew fair winds and following seas.