Day 119, Saturday 29 April
It doesn’t happen often enough. But today it did. And when it does, my world is a different place. It makes me smile and sing aloud. I feel all conquering, powerful and so close to being able to fly. Above all, it makes me fast. So today, I arrived early. Yes, the wind was on my back!
Heading North, from Lough Derg to Lough Ree, through the soft and gentle Irish Midlands, through the well-managed peat bogs, on flat, straight roads, with the wind from the South.
Just when you think hospitality could not get any better, it does. The bar was set high right from the start. Maybe I’m just becoming more appreciative but I’m also beginning to remember what might be at the heart of the matter. As already found in the more remote coastal communities of Scotland, Wales and parts of England, there is usually a sense of community and belonging amongst those involved with the local Lifeboat, like having another family. In the small town or village where a Lifeboat Station exists, that connection extends to almost the whole community. More on this philosophy later….
Meanwhile, back in Lough Ree, thank you Tony McCarth (LOM) for being such a good host and introducing me to so many of your team, including Vincent (treasurer), Bernard (mech), Stan (helm), Eamon (shore crew) and Rachel June, the two ILB crew who donned their full kit for the photos. Thank you all so much. A great atmosphere here today, coinciding with a major fundraising event this evening, including a hog roast and live music in the local Lough Ree Inn where it seems the entire Coosan Point community have gathered. A good time was certainly had by all and the funds raised are expected to be very generous. Not sure if anyone stayed up to count the cash. Well done to all you good people for showing your support for your local Lifeboat.
Sunday morning (too late to write last night). Lots to say about Lough Ree ILB Station at Coosan Point, just north of Athlone. You couldn’t be much further from the sea. To quote Tony, If you were asked to stick a pin in the dead centre of a map of Ireland, it would probably be stuck right here. Sixty miles inland from Galway bay this fresh water lake on the course of the Shannon can at times be more hazardous than the sea. The leisure boating season is already picking up. This is one of the busiest Lifeboat Stations in Ireland. The day before I arrived, they’d already had nine shouts (emergency launches/rescues) this season. By the time I left this morning they’d had two more. Nothing to do with me or any of the party revellers last night. Both incidents were similar cases of hired leisure craft running aground. Amazingly, anyone can hire a boat and head out into this vast open lake on a rough, windy day, with no previous experience. No licence needed. Thankfully, neither boat was holed and both situations were resolved by the skilled Lifeboat crew’s action. Many others each year are not so lucky.
Today, I was the lucky one, taking advantage of someone else’s misfortune or inexperience by witnessing and filming (I’ll try to upload from Garmin cam at some point) the return and recovery of the Lough Ree Lifeboat after another successful outcome.