Irish Lifeboats

The definitive guide to the Irish lifeboat service

Arklow RNLI mechanic Michael Fitzgerald retires after 40 years of dedicated service to saving lives at sea

Arklow RNLI marked the end of an era on Friday last (5 March), when Michael Fitzgerald, the station’s full-time mechanic retired after 40 years of dedicated service to the charity.

Michael who grew up on Harbour Road in Arklow, first joined the RNLI in 1980 when he was just 16. At the time, the station had a wooden lifeboat. It was his uncle, also Michael, a second mechanic on the crew, who inspired the then young Michael with a love for all things lifeboating.

While not eligible to officially join the crew until he was 17, Michael’s early passion shone through and to his delight, his name was registered a year early when the late Coxswain Michael O’Brien, made a plea on his behalf during a station inspection.

A former electrician, Michael volunteered for 19 years before being appointed Arklow RNLI’s full-time station mechanic, a position he held for the last 21 years.

His role involved a wide range of duties and evolved with time with Michael serving on and maintaining six different classes of lifeboat including the station’s current all-weather Trent class lifeboat, the Ger Tigchelaar, which arrived in 1997. Michael was also a key member of the team when the call for help came and the lifeboat was put to sea.

Paying tribute to Michael this week, Peter Harty, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager said: ‘Michael is the living embodiment of the RNLI’s values. A man of humility, integrity and passion, he has made a significant contribution to saving lives at sea off the Arklow coast for more than four decades and we are extremely grateful to him for his dedication and selfless service throughout that time. Thankfully, Michael will not be lost to us as he will remain on as a volunteer mechanic but we want to wish him every good health and happiness in the next chapter of his life.’

John Tyrell, Arklow RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager added: ‘Over the course of four decades, Michael has worked tirelessly to ensure the operational effectiveness of our station here in Arklow through the operation, maintenance and repair of our lifeboat and its associated machinery and equipment. He always ensured everything was working to the highest standard and he did so with great passion and pride. Michaels passion for his role extended to his ability to impart his knowledge to others.
Over the years Michael has experienced all sorts of call outs and braved all sorts of weather and challenges at sea to help bring those in difficulty to safety. A humble man and a friend to all, Michael has always been at the core of our lifesaving team, working to keep our lifeboats and our crews safe and we are so thankful to him for that.’
Photo Credit: RNLI/Arklow


RNLI and GAA partnership working to save lives at sea

The two organisations have been working together in communities throughout Ireland to share water safety advice with GAA players and to deliver water safety talks to GAA clubs around the country.

The key water safety messages are:

Protect your family – we must all take great care on the water this summer and look out for our family and our community

Do not use inflatables

In an emergency dial 112 or 999 and ask for Coast Guard

RNLI water safety advice can be found at 

RNLI Launch a Memory

Would you like to remember someone and see their name on a Shannon lifeboat in Ireland? 

The new all-weather RNLI lifeboat, which will be based at Clifden, will proudly carry the names of up to 10,000 people, placed on it by their loved ones. 

RNLI and Irish Coast Guard issue safety advice for coastal visitors

Given the current COVID-19 outbreak and the importance of social distancing and avoiding non-essential contact with others, coastal areas may be seen as providing an opportunity to enjoy fresh air and exercise while adhering to the government’s guidance. However coastal areas can also present dangers of their own and the two organisations are asking people to ensure they follow essential water safety advice.

Lough Swilly, Portrush and Arranmore RNLI rescue five fishermen in storm

Lough Swilly, Portrush and Arranmore RNLI volunteers spent almost 15 hours at sea in storm force conditions at the weekend to rescue five fishermen who got into difficulty off Fanad Head. The five men who had been fishing for crab got into difficulty 20 miles north of Fanad Head. The boat lost power and encountered steering difficulties while violent waves smashed the wheelhouse windows in.

Kilrush RNLI respond to report of child being swept out to sea

Kilrush RNLI lifeboat launched  to a report that a child was being swept out to sea on an inflatable lilo. The Coastguard Helicopter Rescue 115 were tasked to Beal Strand on the Kerry shore of the Shannon Estuary. The casualty, a young girl, was believed to have been swept out to sea due to strong wind and tides.

Arklow RNLI rescue three persons from sunken canoe

Following an alert by members of the public Arklow Lifeboat was launched to reports of 3 persons in the water and in need of immediate assistance.  Once underway the Coastguard made contact with the Lifeboat and relayed co-ordinates to commence a search for the casualties.

Water Safety

Respect The Water

Respect the Water is the RNLI’s national drowning prevention campaign. 

Around 190 people die each year around the UK and Irish coasts - and the RNLI is working to change this. The RNLI has a goal to halve the number of coastal drownings by 2024 and Respect the Water is playing a key role in this.

Respect The Water & know what to do

Safety on the Water

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton TD launched the newly updated Safety on the Water website on Friday, July 31st 2020.

The Safety on the water initiative was set up by the Marine Safety Working Group. The aim of the group is to promote water safety. This is a collaboration between the Coast Guard, RNLI, Water Safety Ireland, Irish Sailing and BIM.

These organisations advise caution to those engaged in recreational activities in or near water. 

For more information visit

Lifeboat Operations

Community Rescue Boats

There are a number of independent lifeboat services located in Ireland. 

These services operate independently from the RNLI. Most operate with support from their local community and the Irish Coast Guard.

RNLI Lifeboat Fleet

The RNLI currently operate from 46 stations in the Republic and Northern Ireland. 

Different classes of lifeboat are needed for various locations. So RNLI lifeboats are divided into two categories: all-weather and inshore.

In an emergency dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard