BY JACKIE KEOGH
EVEN in the driving rain, people stayed to honour Baltimore’s lifeboat crew, and the station’s 100-year history.
Hugh Tully of the RNLI’s Irish Council was in the village on Sunday to present coxswain Kieran Cotter with the organisation’s 100th anniversary vellum, which now hangs with pride in the lifeboat station.
Over the last century, Mr Tully said, the Baltimore crews have launched on 940 occasions, rescued 867 people, and saved 280 lives, and, on each occasion, operated with ‘skill, knowledge and physical courage’.
In recognition of the courage displayed by the lifeboat crews, past and present, seven silver and three bronze medals for gallantry have been awarded over the years.
Some of the notable rescues and events included the launch of the all-weather lifeboat, the Robert, during the Fastnet yacht race of 1979, a tragedy that claimed the lives of 19 men and women.
That same year, the crew assisted in transferring an injured man to Bantry General Hospital, following a mutiny on board a Greek container ship, but perhaps the rescue that generated the most headlines was the rescue of the then-leader of the opposition, the late Charles Haughey, when his yacht, Taurima II ran aground in October 1985.
Baltimore lifeboat also played a central role in the rescue of the crew from the super-maxi yacht, Rambler 100, during the 2011 Fastnet race.
One of the milestones in Baltimore’s RNLI history was the refurbishment of the station in 2013, and five years before that the station welcomed its first RIB to complement the all-weather lifeboat service.
The older all-weather vessel, the Robert, had pride of place in the inner harbour in Baltimore on Sunday alongside the current all-weather lifeboat the Alan Massey.
The proceedings on Sunday also gave the RNLI an opportunity to officially name the station’s latest rigid inflatable boat – its new inshore boat – the Rita Daphne Smyth.
The entire ceremony was a blend of past and present, old and new, and it included one of the lifeboat’s newest recruits, 17-year-old Amy Kearney.
Amy took her inspiration from her father, John Kearney. And, having recently completed her training, is now ready to work as a volunteer on the Rita Daphne Smyth.
But perhaps the most enduring image from Baltimore on Sunday, was that of the former hon secretary, Richard Bushe, flanked by his daughters Julie and Rita. At the age of 89, Richard rose to the occasion and officially named the new Rita Daphne Smyth in the traditional way – with a bottle of bubbly.