Volunteers honoured for contribution as foundations laid for Lahinch Rescue and Training Centre
FOUR volunteers were honoured for their selfless contribution to water safety and life saving in Lahinch.
Tomsie O’Sullivan, Odran O’Looney, Jarlath O’Looney and Richard Devereux have each committed much of their lives to voluntary water safety functions in the west Clare resort.
They formed the Lahinch Search & Rescue Unit, fundraised, promoted water safety, and spent many hours on search and rescue missions in the Liscannor Bay area. On disbanding the Lahinch Search and Recovery company in 2018 they donated their existing equipment, including a rescue jetski to their successors, Water Safety Clare.
These four gentlemen also became members of Water Safety Clare – a countywide voluntary life saving organisation since the 1930s – which continues to promote and develop the excellent work already started in the Lahinch area.
Appropriately, Tomsie, Odran, Jarlath and Richard were invited to a ceremony to witness the foundation being laid for the new Lahinch Rescue and Training Centre. This centre is an evolution of the lifesaving work started by Lahinch Lifesaving Club in 1937, when a group of locals were trained as lifeguards.
This initiative was supported by Clare County Council and the then Bishop of Galway, Dr Michael Browne.
The Irish Tourist Board of the time also supported the formation of this group whose trainer and main organiser was a serving Superintendent of the gardai in Clare at the time.
Supt Kilroy, was made president of the new club and took on the responsibility of training 12 locals in the skills of lifesaving.
Three of these took up duty on Lahinch beach for the summer months with the others on stand-by if required.
Initially there was no lifeguard station or shelter but eventually a wooden hut was supplied followed by a galvanized hut a few years later. The old “Reel and Line” was available to ensure rescues were efficient and safe for both rescuer and victim.
With the ongoing support of local businesses, the Lahinch area continuously improved its provision of and training for lifeguards in the area.
In 1964 the Lahinch Development Company built a complex which included a swimming pool. This greatly enhanced the promotion of lifeguard training and general water safety awareness in the Lahinch and North Clare areas.
The new rescue and training centre, now under construction, will be managed by Water Safety Clare, who will continue the work started in the 1930s.
The centre is being built on land provided by the current Lahinch Development Company and Clare County Council. It will provide a modern and visible commitment to the safety for all living in and visiting the Lahinch area. The centre will be run and manned by trained and skilled locals with Water Safety Clare providing management, administrative, education and training support. It is hoped to attract more volunteers to further water safety in the Lahinch area who will further support the excellent work of the existing voluntary rescue group of local surfers and Water Safety Clare members.
Clare County Council continues to be proactive in its involvement with all water safety initiatives in the Lahinch area. The new Rescue and Training centre is no exception to this. The support of Clare County Council personnel has been invaluable in progressing the development as has the support of the North Clare elected representatives.
The total cost of the building has been raised through Water Safety Clare fundraising throughout the county and with LEADER funding.
The new centre will be built and operational early in 2022. Activities at the centre will support the redeveloped Lahinch Seaworld through the provision of water safety and other local, national and international training courses and events.