Saving Life at Sea

The people of Skerries have a long tradition of service with the lifeboat. The lifeboat station was first established in 1854. The original Skerries lifeboat, which was called the William Maynard, was a rowboat with a crew of ten.

On 17th. of November 1858 the brig Trigeste ran ashore during an easterly gale between Lambay Island and the mainland. The crew of 13 was rescued by the Skerries lifeboat, under the command of Mr. H. A. Hamilton of Balbriggan. This was an unusually gallant service and reflected the highest credit on the bravery and perseverance of Mr.Hamilton, for which he was awarded a gold medal.

The following April the French barque Azales of Nantes ran ashore on the rocks off Skerries. A seaman gallantly waded into the surf at the peril of his life and conveyed a line to the vessel by means of which the crew of three were rescued.

John Payne, chief officer of the coastguard, was awarded the silver medal for his bravery on the night of the 2nd. of January 1877. The smack Falcon from Skerries, was wrecked at Skerries. At great personal risk John Payne swam twice through the very heavy sea to the aid of the crew. He was successful in rescuing one unconscious man.

In October 1881 the lifeboat capsized without loss of life while out on service to the barque S. Vaughan of Windsor. The lifeboat was being towed by a trawler when the rope broke and a wave struck on her quarter.

The original lifeboat station was replaced in 1903 by a new one, which stands where the Harbour Road turns right for Red Island.

Seventy six years after opening, the Station was closed in 1930. Over 80 lives were saved in that time, a tribute to the courage and seamanship of the people of Skerries.

Skerries has a fast inshore lifeboat on permanent station since August 1981. This type of boat, which is inflatable and capable of speeds of more than 20 knots, has been in service since 1963 and have saved many lives at sea. The decision to reactivate the Skerries Station underlines the confidence and ability of the Skerries Community to support and service its own R.N.L.I. lifeboat.

Published here: November 2002