A large crowd made their way to the Sligo Bay Lifeboat Station for the naming of the new lifeboat.
The vessel, a state of the art Atlantic 85, was given to Sligo Bay Lifeboat as a legacy left to the RNLI by the late couple Shelia and Dennis Tongue, whose name the boat bears.
Speaking at the naming ceremony, Martin Reilly, chair of the Sligo Bay Lifeboat Management Group, paid tribute to the ongoing work of volunteers in Sligo’s branch of the RNLI.
In particular, he praised Wille Murphy, the current Lifeboat Operations Manager who follows in the footsteps of the late Harry Ewing and the late Stuart Hunter who both held the position in the past.
“In total we have 70 plus volunteers as part of our team. There is a wonderful sense of community and friendship. We have a man who works tirelessly to put it all together, which is the wonderful Willie Murphy.”
“I would like to thank him (Willie) personally, for all of his hard work. One thing about Willie is there is never a problem, but always a solution,” he said.
Mr Reilly also paid tribute to the two aforementioned station managers for their contributions to Sligo Bay Lifeboat Station.
“We must remember the legacy of the late Harry Ewing and Stuart Hunter who both served as Lifeboat Operations Managers for many years. Since we have had our first call out in 1998, we have had many call outs and saved many people. Our last boat, the Elsinore, had 189 call outs bringing 159 people to safety. In the last year alone, we have saved four lives,” he said.
Martin Reilly added that he could not say enough to “express my gratitude to those who help to keep us safe at sea.”
Raymond Tongue, who was joined by his brother Philip and their wives Andrea and Susan, spoke of the honour it was to pass on the Atlantic 85 to Sligo Bay Lifeboat Station.
“It give me great pleasure to be here. My aunt and uncle were both born and lived, grew up and worked in Birmingham. Further from a lifeboat they could not have been. When they retired they moved to the south coast of England in the community of Exmouth.”
“It was there they learned of the work, and began to admire the work of the RNLI. I think it is true to say that because of the public standing, work of the crews and volunteers of the RNLI that the two became active supporters of that community. I think it is because of that that we are here today,” he said.
Raymond also spoke of the community spirit which surrounds the RNLI in Sligo.
“You should be proud, and justifiably proud, of the people who work and serve this community as part of the RNLI. I feel honoured that I am able, on behalf of my aunt and uncle, to hand over to the RNLI of Sligo this lifeboat. May it serve you well,” he added.
For more coverage from the launch, see this week’s Sligo Weekender newspaper – in shops now, or get your digital edition here on www.sligoweekender.ie.