25 June 2022
By Elaine Murphy
Volunteers at Union Hall RNLI will be holding a special ceremony and service of dedication today for their Atlantic 85 lifeboat, “Christine and Raymond Fielding”. The funding for the lifeboat came from the late Monkstown based Radiologist Dr. Raymond Fielding (1935-2016), a keen mariner and proud Corkman. In his later years, Raymond became interested in philanthropy and wanted to fund a lifeboat in memory of his late wife, Christine (d. 2012), who often sailed with him. While they did not live to see the lifeboat put into service, Raymond asked that the lifesaving vessel bear both their names.
The lifeboat has been on service since June 2021, but the ceremony was postponed to allow the community to celebrate together and remember Raymond and Christine and their generous gift. Raymond’s friend Eddie Fitzgerald will hand the lifeboat into the care of the RNLI during the ceremony, which will then be presented to the station by John Killeen, RNLI Trustee and Council Member. Carmel McKenna and Bill Deasy from Union Hall RNLI will have the honour of naming the lifeboat. Music for the event will be provided by St. Fachtna’s Silver Band and The Union Hall and Castlehaven Parish Choir.
The Atlantic 85 class lifeboat is one of the fastest vessels in the fleet; with a top speed is 35 knots. Designed to operate in shallower water, the B class can handle challenging open sea conditions. It is ideal for rescues close to shore, near cliffs and rocks and areas inaccessible to all-weather lifeboats. It is also capable of being beached in an emergency without sustaining damage to the engines.
In addition to night vision equipment, the B class lifeboat carries a searchlight and parachute illuminating flares to light up the surrounding area, helping to keep crew members safe as well as locate those in need of help. The B class has a manually operated righting mechanism in the event of a capsize which involves inflating a bag on top of the roll bar. The engines are inversion-proofed so that they shut down should the lifeboat capsize and can be restarted after she has been righted.
Speaking ahead of the ceremony, John Kelleher, Union Hall RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said:
‘This is a very special occasion for our station. As well as giving us the opportunity to give thanks to our donor and acknowledge this wonderful couple, we want to share this day with our community and to thank them for their continued support.’
‘While we have seen a fair share of tragedy in our maritime community in this part of the world, the arrival of a new lifeboat is a beacon of hope and an investment in lifesaving. Our lifeboat crew, shore crew, station management and our fundraisers are all volunteers who are united in the goal of keeping our community safe and working together to prevent drowning. We look forward to a day of celebration.’