Union Hall RNLI lifeboat station to be made permanent

West Cork facility set up after 2012 tragedy when Tit Bonhomme trawler sank taking five lives

A lifeboat station at Union Hall in Cork is to be made permanent  following a successful trial.  File photograph: RNLI/Nigel Millard/PA Wire

A lifeboat station at Union Hall in Cork is to be made permanent following a successful trial. File photograph: RNLI/Nigel Millard/PA Wire


A lifeboat station set up in the wake of the Tit Bonhomme tragedy which claimed the lives of five fishermen in West Cork is to be permanently established by the RNLI following a successful trial.

Union Hall RNLI was put into service in 2014 for a three-year period after local representations were made for a search-and-rescue operation to be established in the busy West Cork fishing port.

It followed the Tit Bonhomme tragedy in January 2012, when the trawler owned and skippered by Michael Hayes went down at the mouth of Glandore Harbour with the loss of five lives.

Mr Hayes (52), from An Rinn, Co Waterford and crew Kevin Kershaw (21), from Dublin, and Egyptians Wael Mohamed (35), Attaia Shaban (26) and Saied Ali Eldin (22), all died when the boat sank.

Now Union Hall is to become the RNLI’s 45th permanent station in Ireland, with work due to start shortly on establishing a permanent building.

Since the station’s initial establishment in 2014, local volunteers have operated Maritime Nation, a B class Atlantic 75 lifeboat, from temporary station facilities, launching from a slipway near Keelbeg pier.

Glandore Bay

According to the RNLI, since going into service in 2014, the RNLI Union Hall Lifeboat has launched a total of 26 times, saved one life and rescued 42 people from the seas around Glandore Bay, is a popular spot for fishermen and visitors including anglers, rowers, swimmers and sailors.

The Union Hall station, which covers an area 14 miles to the east and eight miles to the west, is flanked by Courtmacsherry RNLI and Baltimore RNLI, which both have larger all-weather lifeboats.

Union Hall RNLI Lifeboat operations manager John Kelleher confirmed the station had received word from the RNLI trustees that the trial had been a success, and the station will be made permanent.

“We have been waiting for this news and to finally get confirmation that the trial has been a success is great – I am delighted not just for our volunteer crew and station management but for everyone who has been involved and supported the setting up of a station here in the locality.

“I would like to commend the commitment and dedication of our volunteer crew members who have devoted their time to training and to learning and developing new skills to help them save lives at sea.

“It is thanks to their efforts and those working so hard on the shore – be it to prepare the lifeboat to go to sea or washing it down after a call-out, or to educate people about the dangers of water, or to fundraise – that we are now able to provide this service permanently to the community in West Cork and to anyone who may find themselves in distress at sea.”

Paddy O’Donovan, Union Hall chairman, said confirmation the station is to be made permanent was “a vote of confidence in our local volunteers” and he thanked all the RNLI personnel who had visited and helped with the project.